The business of buying and selling of votes which characterised recent elections in some parts of the country would not be condoned in Osun State on Saturday, a police chief has warned.
Habila Joshak, the deputy inspector-general of police in charge of operations who is leading security arrangement, said potential offenders should be aware that intelligence operatives have been planted at polling areas with the directive to make immediate arrests.
“We are aware that they sell votes outside polling areas and we have mounted surveillance of State Security Service operatives and other special units who will go after anyone who buys or sells votes during tomorrow’s election,” Mr Joshak told PREMIUM TIMES Friday afternoon in Oshogbo, the state capital.
“When you sell your votes or you canvass for votes at the polling unit with intention to buy, then you have flouted electoral law and would be prosecuted,” Mr Joshak said.
Fears that Osun voters might sell their votes as some of their neighbours in Ekiti State were caught doing in July governorship election have gripped pro-democracy campaigners and ordinary observers. Campaigns to prevent what happened in Ekiti, in which voters sold votes for between N3,000 and N5,000, have intensified in recent days.
The Independent National Electoral Commission amended its guidelines to discourage votes trading on election day by prohibiting the use of devices with camera when a voter is casting a ballot.
Mr Joshak hailed the decision as a plus for transparency in his interaction with PREMIUM TIMES at the police state command headquarters Friday afternoon.
“The ballot box is sacrosanct,” he said. “INEC brought those changes to enforce transparency.”
The police chief gave PREMIUM TIMES an overview of security arrangement for the election, in which at least five strong candidates are slugging it out to succeed incumbent Governor Rauf Aregbesola.
There have been complaints by officials of Peoples Democratic Party and the All Progressives Congress, the two largest campaigns in the race, about wanton pockets of attacks against each other’s loyalists in recent days.
Each campaign blamed the other for instigating the violence, which had seen several persons gravely injured and properties vandalised.
Mr Joshak told PREMIUM TIMES those attacks are isolated and did not reflect the overall security situation in the state.
“I can tell you that I have been to all corners of the state since yesterday and what I saw was the peaceful conduct of a people ready for this election,” he said. “The people are willing to submit to the democratic tenets and go about the election peacefully.”
Still, where persons are identified to have provoked violence or taken part in any disorder, the police “will not spare”, he added.
Mr Joshak is coordinating a contingent of police personnel deployed in the state for election security. The police said 40,000 officers were deployed, including dozens of commissioners and chief police superintendents.
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