Worried by the high spate of vote buying and selling that characterized the recently held general elections, the Independent National Electoral Commission,INEC has proposed a fine of N500,000 or three years jail term or both for persons for perpetrators of such electoral frauds.
Mahmood Yakubu, INEC Chairman of the Commission, Professor Mahmood Yakubu made the proposal Wednesday at the 9th Forum of the Anti-Corruption Situation Room, organised by the Human and Environmental Development Agenda HEDA.
Mahmood said these punitive measures would go a long way in curbing the menace which has made Nigeria a laughing stock and caused the commission untold embarrassment before the international community.
The Chairman who was represented at the event by Festus Okoye, INEC National Commissioner and Chairman, Voter Education and Publicity Committee Festus called on the National Assembly to enact laws that would address the hydra-headed monsters of vote buying and selling.
He particularly appealed to the legislature to expedite action on the Electoral Offences Commission Bill, suggesting that a separate agency should be given the responsibility of investigating and prosecuting electoral offences and offenders.
“The National Assembly should isolate vote buying and selling and properly define it, it varieties and ingredients and make it a separate item in the Electoral Act and provide sanction for violation.
“The punishment for vote buying should be increased and made stiffer to act ad deterrent to buyers and sellers. Those that commit the offence of buying and selling should be made to pay a fine of N500,000 or be subjected to three years imprisonment or both.
“Restriction on the use of smart phones in the polling units should be imputed into the Electoral Act and violators should be liable on conviction to find of N500,000 or three years imprisonment or both”, he said.
Femi Falana Chairman of the occasion said candidates indicted for electoral offences by Election Petition Tribunals should be stopped from taking part in rerun elections where the polls are nullified.
Falana argued that, “where people are indicted for committing electoral offences, if you are going to have a rerun, it is inequitable to allow such persons to contest the election; that is like rewarding criminality.
“All the governors who were indicted in election in the past were allowed to take part at the rerun election. In our laws,you are prohibited from benefitting from fraud. We should take that to the election petition tribunals”.
James Kwen, Abuja