Ekiti 2022: INEC Chairman, Mahmood Yakub Expresses Concern Over Vote Buying

With the Ekiti State governorship election slated for this Saturday, June 18, Chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Manhood Yakubu, has expressed concern over vote-buying and inducement to voters, even as he assured the people that only legitimate voters would determine the next governor of the state.

Also, the National Peace Committee (NPC), has appealed to the residents of the state to choose peace over violence in the coming governorship election in the state.

This is as the Inspector-General of Police, Alkali Baba, also in Ado Ekiti, has urged police officers deployed to maintain security to be apolitical, firm, and professional in the discharge of their election security mandate.Yakubu, who spoke yesterday in Ado Ekiti, when he met stakeholders, said, “Like every conscientious Nigerian, the Commission is deeply worried by the use of money to induce voters on Election Day.“Clearly, vote buying is a threat to our electoral democracy.

To discourage the practice, we changed the configuration of our polling units to bring the ballot boxes closer to the voting cubicles and also banned the use of mobile phones and photographic devices by voters while in the voting cubicles.

“We have also intensified our collaboration with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) to deal with both the buyers and the takers under the law. I urge all stakeholders to join the Commission in tackling the menace,” he stated.

According to him, INEC was aware that stakeholders had expressed concerns about the election and would like to be given assurances in two critical areas.

“First is the transparency and credibility of the election; and secondly, its security and peaceful conduct. We are taking both issues very seriously. I will speak about our preparations for free, fair, credible, transparent and inclusive election.

“I am also glad that the Inspector General of Police, as the head of the lead agency in internal security, is personally here today to address the triple dimensions of securing the process before, during and after the elections.

“For us in INEC, let me reassure political parties, candidates and the electorate that the choice of who becomes the next Governor of Ekiti State is entirely in the hands of voters. INEC will not take any action to the advantage or disadvantage of any political party or candidate.

“Our focus is on the processes and procedures as provided by law. In this regard, the election holding this weekend is historic being the first governorship election that the Commission will be conducting based on the provisions of the Electoral Act 2022, which came into force about four months ago on 25th February 2022.

“It is also the first election to be conducted based on our revised Regulations and Guidelines anchored on the provisions of the new Electoral Act. We have also revised our Training Manual to reflect the provisions of the new Electoral Act as well as the Regulations and Guidelines.

“We have taken every step and made every arrangement for the successful conduct of the governorship election this weekend. We held many meetings with political parties and their candidates. We had several engagements with the security agencies at national, state and local government levels. We consulted with stakeholders,” he stated.

On his part, Chairman of the Peace Committee and former Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar, urged the people to come out without fear, but with hope to exercise their franchise and vote to deepen the democratic process in the state.

Abdulsalami also advised the youths not to make themselves pawns in the hands of the political class but should be aware that the security, stability, and future of Nigeria remain their common patrimony.

He urged everyone taking part in the election to follow due process, conduct themselves with civility and patriotism, and ensure they do not take the laws into their hands no matter the grievances they may hold against individuals and other stakeholders in the poll.He reminded INEC, security agencies, and others that Nigerians and the world were monitoring them as they expect a level-playing field for all parties.

Also, the police IG, said, “The Ekiti election will certainly not be different as our professionalism and patriotism will, once again, be put to test and subjected to public scrutiny.“In this regard, you should all note that our mandate includes working with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in creating a conducive and enabling environment that will guarantee the peaceful conduct of the elections.

“We are also statutorily charged with the responsibility of securing INEC personnel, electoral materials, and other critical assets of the Commission as well as the electorates and the local and international observers.

“In carrying out our duties under the Electoral Act, we should be mindful not to abandon our routine, primary mandate of guaranteeing security within the public space so that criminal elements do not feast on our electoral engagement to have space for their heinous crimes.

“In essence, our roles in Ekiti at this period are twofold. First is to police the electoral process in conjunction with our friendly forces, which include the Military, DSS and other sister security agencies. Second is to police the public space and ensure that criminals are deterred from perfecting their ignoble trade.

“It is in furtherance to this that I am here to personally encourage, inspire and motivate you towards appreciating the task ahead and how much the nation looks up to you to guarantee the credibility of the outcome of the elections. I have during my earlier interaction with the stakeholders vouched on your behalf that you shall all be apolitical, firm, and professional in the discharge of your election security mandate.

“I also assured them that while we shall be civil enough to protect the law-abiding citizens, we shall also be decisive in dealing with any political and subversive deviants that may test our will by attempting to disrupt the peaceful order during the election.”

He, however, clarified that the heavy deployment of security agencies in the state, was not intended to scare voters and cause apathy on election day.On the contrary, the deployment was geared towards protecting the sanctity of the ballots and making the outcome of the election credible and acceptable to all stakeholders.

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