CDD: It’s unfortunate that no one has been punished for vote buying

Vote Buying

The Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) says it is unfortunate that no has been made to face the law over vote buying.

Inducement of voters is common during elections despite promises by security agencies to check the trend.

During the February 23 and March 9 elections, operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) stormed polling units across the country to monitor vote buying.

Some politicians were arrested over the act but nothing has been heard about prosecution.

In a report issued after Saturday’s supplementary election, CDD expressed concern over the development.

“The challenge of voter trading and how it impacts on the integrity of elections has been a constant theme of this election. So too is underage voting. Our observers reported underage voting in Plateau, Kano and Sokoto states,” the report read.

“Our observers reported across the five states that the two major political parties are involved in trying to induce voters. In Sokoto vote-buying allegations were laid against the two dominant parties. A voter interviewed during the elections by our observer at the Katta Hakimi polling zone EC 30 B, Gidan Katta area of Illela in Sokoto State, alleged votes were being procured for between N10,000 and N15,000.

“According to the voter, before sliding your thumb printed paper into the ballot box, you will have to lift it for the agent to see and nod his head as a sign that you have fulfilled your part of the deal hence qualified for the payment.

“There is a need to emphasise that the act of vote buying and selling is an offence punishable under the law. It is unfortunate that despite its routine occurrence, no-one has ever been punished or faced the wrath of the law.”

The group also complained about the welfare of ad hoc staff in the election, saying INEC had not matched its promises with action.

It also complained about high level of violence, malfunctioning of card readers and some other issue which served as a threat to the election.

“The smart card readers and the welfare of ad-hoc staff continue to constitute challenges to the electoral process. INEC is yet to match commitments with action on prompt payment and adequate welfare for ad-hoc staff,” he said.

“The malfunctioning and deliberate none-usage of the smart card reader continues to hinder the smooth running of the elections. We implore INEC to find a lasting solution to address the perennial card reader challenges and poor handling of the welfare of ad-hoc staff. It is also vital that there is a uniform application of rules on the none usage of the card reader.

“The CDD is immensely worried about the quality of elections, in particular, the renewed thuggery and brigandage being visited on the polity by the political class. These shameful acts are not just capable of truncating our democracy but importantly eroding the trust of the citizenry in the democratic process itself. The elections have again pointed out the need for a broader electoral accountability framework and in particular the political will to pursue accountability. It is time for Nigeria to put an end to electoral impunity to preserve its democracy.”

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