Ekiti: CSOs Call For Urgent Legislation Against Vote-buying In Elections
Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room, a coalition of no fewer than 70 Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) has called for urgent legislation to tackle the challenge of vote buying in Nigeria’s elections.
The Convener of the group, Mr Clement Nwankwo, in a statement on Sunday after monitoring the just-concluded governorship election, said that the “worrying trend of vote-buying” had escalated to desperate levels.
Nwankwo said that the major political parties shared blame in this act.
“This trend portends grave danger to Nigeria’s democracy as it undermines the responsibility of citizens to freely choose their leaders and threatens the essence of democracy.
“Vote-buying represents a major setback to the gains made with Nigeria’s electoral process and denies citizens the power to hold elected official accountable and responsive to the needs and aspirations of Nigerians.
“Vote-buying is also a threat to the emergence of women as elected representatives with the increasing cost of electoral politics,” he said.
Nwankwo said that the Situation Room observed widespread financial inducement around many Polling Units.
He said that in some cases, the location and positioning of the polling booths and ballot boxes contributed to the non-secrecy of the ballot and vote-buying, adding that major political parties were quite culpable in the breach.
According to him, the widespread nature and brazenness of vote-buying by political parties and candidates create dent on the outcome of any election and raises concern that Nigeria’s electoral process is being monetized with impunity.
Nwankwo said that the Situation Room commended the people of Ekiti for coming out to vote in the elections and for conducting themselves peacefully.
This, he said, was in spite of the apprehension that preceded the election due to the actions of some individuals and institutions, including fears of over-policing.
He said that the group also commended the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the noticeable improvement in the conduct of the election.
The group’s convener, however, called on INEC to improve on access to polling units for Persons Living with Disabilities, the elderly, pregnant women and nursing mothers.
He said that INEC should also improve on the secrecy of the balloting process as a means of addressing vote-buying, adding that the commission should take care of functionality and processing time of Smart Card Reader.
Nwankwo said that the Situation Room commended the Police for the improved conduct of its personnel during the election.
He, however, advised the force to be proactive in the enforcement of the provisions of the Electoral Act to reduce violations of the law, especially vote-buying.
He said that while the group recognised the security challenges in the country, the situation room continued to question the heavy military deployment and involvement in elections.
Nwankwo deplored “the broad composition of the security agencies in the election’’ and expressed worry about such development “when Nigeria should be working towards a more civil security approach to elections”.
He urged citizens of Ekiti to remain peaceful, advising that all persons aggrieved with the outcome of the election should follow the legal process in seeking remedies.
Nwankwo said that the group observed the governorship election and received field reports from its deployed observers and other partners and election observer networks.