• Friday, December 08, 2023
businessday logo

BusinessDay

Why INEC is unable to tackle vote-buying, others – Mahmood

James Kwen

Mahmood Yakubu, the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), says lack of capacity and expertise has slowed down the commission’s efforts to tackle vote-buying and other electoral offences in Nigeria.

Mahmood warned that it had become imperative for Nigeria to establish an electoral offences commission to collaborate with the commission to check electoral fraud and other related crimes.

He stated this on Wednesday in Lagos at the commission’s retreat on the Ekiti and Osun off-cycle governorship elections: Lesson for the 2023 general election.

Vote-buying, legitimacy crises, violence, and other electoral frauds has characterised elections across Nigeria in the last two decades.

Pundits say the trend has hindered credible candidates from winning elections and scared away those with genuine intention to serve the country.

A recent study revealed that as of 2019, 24 per cent of male and 19 per cent of female respondents said they were offered money or non-monetary favours in exchange for their votes in state and national elections.

The INEC chairman said the commission had successfully prosecuted over 40 electoral offenders in recent years, adding that it would work with relevant agencies to check electoral fraud in the 2023 general election.

According to Mahmood, “First condition for prosecution is arrest, INEC has no police. It is the presiding officer, but the presiding officers are busy with the process.

“We don’t have the capacity to successfully investigate, so we have little success with prosecution. Some of the violators may be INEC officials; it becomes difficult to prosecute our officials.

“The Establishment of the electoral offences commission where people who violate the Electoral Act would be subjected, whether they are people at the polling units or INEC officials is important.

Read also: Core cost of election is FG’s responsibility – INEC

“But we must first of all get the actual sponsors of persons who snatches ballots at the polling units, the person who manipulates election results, who buy votes at the polling units”.

Speaking further, Mahmood stressed that the commission was ready to work with the National Assembly for the successful establishment of such a commission ahead of future elections.

“We would continue to do what we can to improve elections in this country with the current laws, we would continue to work with anti-graft agencies particularly the EFCC and ICPC.

“INEC will also work with security agencies to discourage apprehension of voting-buying in the polling units”, he added.

Speaking earlier, the Lagos State Resident Electoral Commissioner, Olusegun Agbaje said timely production of Permanent Voter Card (PVCs) to enable registered voters across the country to collect their cards was necessary for adequate preparation for next year’s elections.

Agbaje noted that there was the need for the commission to decentralise the collection points of PVCs in the localities nearer to the public.

He added that there was the need for the engagement of additional collation officers for ease of collation of election results next year.

“As a result of the conversion of the voting points to the polling units, a good number of registrant areas now consist of many polling units that will require the engagement of additional collation officers for ease of collation of election results in this regard”, Agbaje said.

The retreat was attended by INEC RECs across the country and some of the commission’s partners.

Why INEC is unable to tackle vote-buying, others – Mahmood

Iniobong Iwok

Mahmood Yakubu, the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), says lack of capacity and expertise has slowed down the commission’s efforts to tackle vote-buying and other electoral offences in Nigeria.

Mahmood warned that it had become imperative for Nigeria to establish an electoral offences commission to collaborate with the commission to check electoral fraud and other related crimes.

He stated this on Wednesday in Lagos at the commission’s retreat on the Ekiti and Osun off-cycle governorship elections: Lesson for the 2023 general election.

Vote-buying, legitimacy crises, violence, and other electoral frauds has characterised elections across Nigeria in the last two decades.

Pundits say the trend has hindered credible candidates from winning elections and scared away those with genuine intention to serve the country.

A recent study revealed that as of 2019, 24 per cent of male and 19 per cent of female respondents said they were offered money or non-monetary favours in exchange for their votes in state and national elections.

The INEC chairman said the commission had successfully prosecuted over 40 electoral offenders in recent years, adding that it would work with relevant agencies to check electoral fraud in the 2023 general election.

According to Mahmood, “First condition for prosecution is arrest, INEC has no police. It is the presiding officer, but the presiding officers are busy with the process.

“We don’t have the capacity to successfully investigate, so we have little success with prosecution. Some of the violators may be INEC officials; it becomes difficult to prosecute our officials.

“The Establishment of the electoral offences commission where people who violate the Electoral Act would be subjected, whether they are people at the polling units or INEC officials is important.

“But we must first of all get the actual sponsors of persons who snatches ballots at the polling units, the person who manipulates election results, who buy votes at the polling units”.

Speaking further, Mahmood stressed that the commission was ready to work with the National Assembly for the successful establishment of such a commission ahead of future elections.

“We would continue to do what we can to improve elections in this country with the current laws, we would continue to work with anti-graft agencies particularly the EFCC and ICPC.

“INEC will also work with security agencies to discourage apprehension of voting-buying in the polling units”, he added.

Speaking earlier, the Lagos State Resident Electoral Commissioner, Olusegun Agbaje said timely production of Permanent Voter Card (PVCs) to enable registered voters across the country to collect their cards was necessary for adequate preparation for next year’s elections.

Agbaje noted that there was the need for the commission to decentralise the collection points of PVCs in the localities nearer to the public.

He added that there was the need for the engagement of additional collation officers for ease of collation of election results next year.

“As a result of the conversion of the voting points to the polling units, a good number of registrant areas now consist of many polling units that will require the engagement of additional collation officers for ease of collation of election results in this regard”, Agbaje said.

The retreat was attended by INEC RECs across the country and some of the commission’s partners.