The Independent National Electoral Commission has vowed to arrest and prosecute anybody caught inducing voters with money or any other materials during the coming governorship election in Osun State.
The INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner in Osun State, Mr. Olusegun Agbaje, said this in Osogbo on Wednesday at a meeting held by the commission with leaders of various political parties in preparation for September 22 poll.
Agbaje said the commission was ready to conduct a credible election which he stressed would be acceptable to all. He said that the2018 gubernatorial election in the state would be an improvement on the previous polls while giving the assurance that card readers that would be used would be improved ones.
The REC stated that the inability of political parties to imbibe the culture of genuine internal democracy was harmful to the electoral process in the country. To achieve the goal of building a potent democratic ethos, he said, political parties must embrace the culture of genuine internal democracy.
He said. ”Let me express the commission’s concern and dissatisfaction over the do-or-die attitude of some politicians, whose stock in trade is winning elections at all cost and by all means including violence, malpractices, thuggery and all other election vices that impede the democratic process.
“Another worrisome trend is the buying of votes during elections which is very unhealthy to the electoral. Process. The commission is however not leaving any stone unturned towards ensuring that anyone caught inducing voters with money on Election Day will be brought under the full weight of the law to serve as deterrent to others.
“I, therefore want to use this opportunity to urge all political party leaders to ensure that all your actions and reactions are strictly guided by the extant laws and to equally stress that all hands must be on deck with the political party leaders T the forefront to make Osun State very peaceful before, during and after the governorship election on 22nd September.”
He said the collection of permanent voter cards was still ongoing at the INEC offices various local government areas, saying a total of 1,032,008 PVC had been collected by their owners out of the 1,674,600 PVC.
The REC also urged political parties to educate their members on the importance of PVC to elections and on how to thumbprint the ballot papers in order to reduce the number of rejected ballot.
The Chairman of the Restoration Party of Nigeria, Mr. Tosin Odeyemi, called on the INEC to give equal treatment to all political parties and to ensure fairness in order to avoid crisis.
He said, ”Some political parties usually bribe ad hoc members used for elections but we will do everything to monitor and prevent that in this election.
“The REC, Mr. Agbaje, is a man of high integrity but he should make sure that no INEC official is allowed to sabotage his efforts of ensuring a credible poll. We won’t allow anybody to thwart our efforts. INEC should ensure a level playing field. “