October 6, 2022

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Groups counsel Osun voters against vote-buying

Election monitoring and observation groups, HEDA Resource Centre and Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre, on Friday, advised voters in Saturday’s Osun State governorship election against trading their God-given rights to choose their leader.

The Chairman, HEDA Resource Centre, Olanrewaju Suraju and WARDC Executive Director, Dr Abiola Akiode-Afolabi, who said the Osun governorship election would be yet another test for Nigeria’s democratic consolidation and citizens’ fidelity to laws and rules guiding the electoral process, harped on the need to discourage vote-buying.

Speaking at a press conference in Osogbo, the Osun State capital, Suraju and Akiode-Afolabi renewed call on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and other law enforcement agencies not to stop at arresting and prosecuting party agents involved in vote-buying, “but should also ensure to shine the spotlight on their sponsors.”

They said, “The issue of vote-buying remains about the biggest threat to a credible election in Nigeria and it remains a leading cause for concern as the country edges close to the 2023 General Election.”

Suraju and Akiode-Afolabi charged Osun voters to “come out en-masse to cast their votes and be part of selecting their own leader for the next four years through a credible electoral process. This God-given right should be honoured and not traded. It is not a commodity to sell, but a right to be exercised. Selling vote is criminal, casting it is the ideal.

“The implication of vote-buying is far reaching – it makes it difficult to call leaders to account since they paid their ways to the position occupied and beyond that, it affects the economy and living conditions as leaders would have no moral obligation to make life better for the citizens.

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“Making public office holders accountable becomes negatively affected where the processes informing their emergence were largely compromised by vote-buying. Under such circumstances, the grip of corruption becomes quick to sight and preventing such becomes a difficult necessity,” they said.

The groups hailed security and anti-graft agencies for heeding the call to stem the tide of vote-buying, saying, “As reported in the news, the Nigeria Police Force and other security agencies, including the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, have announced their readiness to man the election with sufficient manpower to forestall any eventualities of vote-buying.

“It was also reported that the deployment of police personnel will be complemented by soldiers and civil defence corps. The Police Force has also promised to deploy the Federal Intelligence Bureau, Tactical Corps and the Special Forces to curb vote-buying. The Inspector-General of Police, Baba Alkali, had warned that the police would not take it lightly with persons or groups seeking to perpetrate vote-buying or any form of inducement in the elections,” they said.