The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has identified vote-buying and insecurity as some of its major concerns ahead of the forthcoming governorship election in Osun.
Speaking on Saturday on INEC’s preparedness for the election, the Commission’s Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, said plans are on to record a smooth election in the state.
The poll, fixed for July 16, is one of the eight off-cycle governorship elections in Nigeria.
With the improvement recorded in the performance of Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) among other technical successes recorded during the just concluded Ekiti poll, Mr Yakubu said he looks forward to replicating similar feats in Osun.
He, however, raised concerns about security and vote-buying, two major recurrences that have continued to undermine Nigeria’s electoral process.
“Arising from the experience of the recent Ekiti State Governorship election, the Commission is keeping a close watch on the security situation in Osun State. Although it is generally calm at the moment, we are nevertheless concerned about reports of clashes in some places. In one recent example, the collection of Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) was disrupted in Erin Oke and Erin Ijesha Wards of Oriade Local Government Area resulting in the loss of 46 PVCs.
“While the matter is being investigated by the police, the collection of PVCs for the affected Wards is now taking place in the INEC office in Ijebu-Jesha. Meanwhile, the State office has compiled the Voter Identification Numbers (VINs) of the cards and the Commission has already reprinted the PVCs for the affected voters.
”I would like to assure all valid registrants in Osun State that no one will be disenfranchised on account of such an incident. It is futile for anyone to attempt to vote using another person’s PVC. The BVAS biometric accreditation will expose such fraud and persons apprehended will be prosecuted under the law,” the INEC chairman said at a meeting of the inter-agency consultative committee on election security.
Mr Yakubu stated further, “Again, arising from the experience in recent elections, vote buying remains a major area of concern. We appreciate the role played by the anti-corruption and security agencies in apprehending some of the perpetrators of this brazen assault on our democracy. In particular, we are working with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to ensure the prosecution of persons arrested in the recent Ekiti governorship election. Action will commence as soon as the EFCC completes its investigation. I appeal to all security agencies to continue to join hands with the Commission to tackle this menace,” Mr Yakubu further said.
A representative of the National Security Adviser (NSA), Sanusi Galadima, applauded INEC’s feat at the Ekiti poll but urged the commission to double up in the forthcoming Osun poll.
Against the commission’s concerns, Mr Galadima said there were no major security concerns during and after the Ekiti poll.
He called on residents of Osun State to come out enmasse to participate in the governorship poll.
“Consequent upon the above, the NSA enjoined INEC, through the Department of voter education/publicity, to redouble efforts ahead of the Osun State guber election and the forthcoming general elections in 2023.
“The NSA also urged ICCES members to build on the successes recorded from the Ekiti election as some disgruntled politicians may attempt to sabotage the process for their selfish gains, through vote buying and other forms of voter inducement as well as political thuggery,” the NSA boss representative noted.
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