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OsunDecides2022: ‘Peace Accord’ should include commitment against vote-buying – ICPC

OsunDecides2022: ‘Peace Accord’ should include commitment against vote-buying – ICPC

The Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) has called for the inclusion of commitment against vote-buying in the Peace Accord signed by candidates of political parties ahead of election days.

The anti-graft agency’s spokesperson, Azuka Ogugua, said this in her contributions during the PREMIUM TIMES’ weekly TwitterSpaces on Wednesday.

The latest episode of the programme was titled ‘#OsunDecides: Lessons learnt from the Ekiti governorship elections’.

Other speakers at the event included Tobi Oluwatola, the Executive Director of the Centre for Journalism, Innovation and Development (CJID), Samson Itodo, the Executive Director of Yiaga Africa, and Ene Obi, convener of the Civil Societies Situation Room.

PREMIUM TIMES had reported that 13 political parties signed the Peace Accord for peaceful conduct ahead of Saturday’s governorship election in Osun State.

The Labour Party was absent at the venue of the peace accord meeting held in Osogbo, the Osun State capital, on Wednesday.

The ceremony is organised by the National Peace Committee led by a former Head of State, Abdulsalami Abubakar, and a cleric, Mathew Kukah.

The ICPC said its operatives would be on ground to monitor vote buying and arrest suspects during the Osun governorship election.

Mrs Ogugua said the officers would be deployed from the ICPC’s office in Osun State and its South-west zonal office. She added that they would be supported by officers from its headquarters in Abuja.

The official who said she was unaware of the precise number of officers to be deployed, assured that an adequate number of officers would be stationed across the three senatorial districts to provide effective coverage of the election.

“As you all know, ICPC monitored the last election in Ekiti State and we are set to monitor the Osun elections coming up this Saturday.

“Our work in election monitoring is to track vote buying. In the last election, we noticed they were a lot of vote buying going on at all levels.

“The ICPC would be deploying officers from our zonal office in Osun, supported by staff across our Southwest states. And a few of us from Abuja would also join the team of officers.”

PREMIUM TIMES and other media platforms reported how the Ekiti State governorship election, held on June 18, was marred by widespread vote-buying.

There were reports of how persons suspected to be working for the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) handed out cash ranging between N3,000 and N10,000 to voters to buy their votes.

The anti-graft authorities comprising of both the EFCC and ICPC later made arrests of certain party agents who were caught buying votes.

The ruling APC emerged the winner of the election with PDP coming third.

Biodun Oyebanji of the APC secured 187,057 votes to defeat his closest challengers, Segun Oni of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) who polled 82,211, and Bisi Kolawole of the Peoples Democratic Party who scored 67, 457 votes.

How votes are bought – ICPC

Mrs Ogugua said over the years, the commission had observed several methods used in vote-buying during elections.

She said, “From our experience, we noticed things have changed as there are innovations vote buyers use at different elections starting with the Anambra elections whereby electorates raise their votes for their agents to verify they have voted for their choice and they go to a specified location where they (electorates) are paid.

“Hardly will you see cash at the elections.”

She said many of these cases had been reported to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

Mrs Ogugua also revealed that ICPC is a member of an inter-agency committee aimed at monitoring vote-buying during elections.

Anti-corruption agencies and security personnel should do more

Mboho Enoh, the CJID’s deputy director for accountability, urged the security forces and anti-corruption organisations to step up their efforts by ensuring that individuals detained for election-related offences face legal consequences.

Such a move, according to him, will help many Nigerians’ faiths.

Mr Enoh, who said that many security personnel are complicit in the issue of vote-buying during elections, further exhorted security personnel to be vigilant in protecting lives and guaranteeing the smooth conduct of elections.

Mr Itodo of YIAGA also called for increased advocacy aimed at discouraging voters from selling their votes for amounts that can barely last them for days.

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