The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) on Friday in Lagos described vote buying as an act of corruption which the commission was committed to tackling.
Dr Musa Abubakar, the Acting Chairman of ICPC, made the declaration at a one-day ‘National Campaign Against Vote Buying and other Electoral Malpractices’ organised by ICPC in conjunction with the Youth Alive Foundation(YAF).
According to Abubakar, represented by Mr Shintema Binga, the Zonal Commissioner for South-West in ICPC, vote buying, which is a type of electoral fraud, takes the form of collecting payment from candidates after voting for them.
“Such payments are usually made through agents either directly or through phone transfer.
“Rigging can take the form of falsifying election results by changing figures to favour particular candidates.
“This is a falsification of official records and punishable under the ICPC Act 2000,’’ he said.
Abubakar urged Nigerian voters to shun attempts by unpatriotic elements in the society who might want to buy their conscience with foodstuff, cloth and cash.
“If you allow them to succeed in doing so, they will make sure they steal resources meant for provision of water, healthcare, educational facilities and construction of roads.
“If such people force themselves on you by bribing you, they will not have your time because they have already settled you.
“I will also advise you to resist any attempt by such disgruntled elements to use your children as thugs to kill, maim and threaten political opponents.
“Admonish your children to resist such attempts; if being a political thug is a worthy way of life, let them recall their children studying abroad and use them as thugs, but they will never,’’ he said.
The acting chairman said that the commission had met with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) chairman where issues of training and election monitoring were revisited.
According to him, the commission is prepared to monitor the 2019 general elections.
Also speaking, Mrs Ijeoma Okey-Igbokwe, the Head of Voter Education, Publicity, Protocol and Civil Society Organisations in the Lagos office of INEC, said it was disheartening to see people negotiating at voting centres.
According to Okey-Igbokwe, vote buying starts from the period of registration of voters card.
She urged voters not to sell their votes, adding that their votes were their conscience.
Okey-Igbokwe, who was represented by Mrs Adenike Oriowo, the Assistant Chief Administrative Officer, said the commission organises educational programmes to enlighten voters on their rights.
Also speaking, Mr Chamberlain Etakuctoh, the Programme Coordinator for YAF, Lagos Chapter, said that vote-buying had become a national concern requiring the attention of all stakeholders.
Etakuctoh urged voters not to allow opportunists to destroy the future of the coming generation.
In his remarks, Dr Peter Okereke, Lead Consultant, Save Visions Africa, Lagos, said that money had become a dominant and determinant factor in the country’s politics.
According to him, poor Nigerians are victimised by vote buying because their limited level of survival makes them susceptible to material inducement and offer of basic commodities.
He said that vote buying was mainly caused by ignorance on the part of the electorate, apathy and poverty as well as deceit by politicians.