The associations comprising Northern Elders Forum, NEF, Afenifere, Ohaeneze Ndigbo, Pan-Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, and Middle Belt Forum, yesterday warned that the alleged practice of vote-buying threatens the conduct of the next elections in Nigeria.
They warned that if the practice was not dealt with, it may affect the outcome of 2019 elections. The associations’ stance was contained in a statement jointly signed by former Federal Commissioner for Information and South-South Leader, Chief Edwin Clark; Leader of Northern Elders Forum, NEF, Professor Ango Abdullahi; Leader of Afenifere, Chief Ayo Adebanjo; President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief John Nnia Nwodo, and President, Middle Belt Forum, Dr. Pogu Bitrus.
According to Daily Post, they also said it has become imperative for there to be a strong synergy between the executive and legislature for a successful amendment of the Electoral Act. In the statement, they expressed fears that the issue of vote-buying was taking a more dangerous dimension, which must be nipped in the bud by the political class, the government and security agencies.
The statement reads partly: “The forum notes that the recent alarming and fast spread vote-buying at polling centres represents a very unfortunate and audacious assault on the electoral process. “If this alarming practice is not dealt with decisively and comprehensively, there will be no hope that the 2019 elections will reflect the will of the people.
“While we commend the decision by INEC that voters will no longer be allowed to use smartphones from the moment they collect their ballot papers till they drop them in the boxes, we believe dealing with this matter at the voter’s level is not enough to curb this crime. “We should go further to treat this serious infraction with all the sanctions it requires.
“The Forum appeals to all concerned, principally Mr. President, the National Assembly, INEC, security agencies, C.S.Os and the international community to collaborate and find immediate and effective solutions to this threat.”