Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has threatened to descend so hard on its staff, officials of political parties and other stakeholders involved in vote-buying during the forthcoming Bayelsa and Kogi states governorship polls.
Commission’s chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, who handed the warning during the quarterly meeting with the leadership of the registered political parties, in Abuja, warned that INEC will unleash the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Offences Related Commission (ICPC) at polling centres to arrest the culprits of vote buyers.
He also pointed out that all the political parties participating in the two elections will sign peace accords in Yenogoa on November 7 and in Lokoja on November 11 ahead of the two elections.
The INEC chairman noted that all its staff and ad-hoc staff to be deployed for the polls in the two states would take oaths of neutrality, warning: “You all know the implications of disobedience to official oaths”.
“ICPC and the EFCC would play active role during the elections to try to disuade and prevent vote buying during the Kogi and Bayelsa governorship elections.
“The Gombe state office of the EFCC has succeeded in getting first conviction for vote buying during elections. Both anti graft agencies would be on duty to ensure that any one trying to induce voters or buy votes during the elections would be arrested and subsequently prosecuted.
“The commission will be working hand in hand with all security agencies to ensure that both sensitive and non-sensitive materials of the elections are secured. INEC will deepen the sanctity of elections by ensuring that the process is secured,” he said.
The INEC boss also announced that ordinarily, the Kogi West senatorial election would have cost the commission over N300 million but because it is being merged with the governorship election in the state, the election would merely cost the commission only N10 million.
“We want to caution against voters intimidation and harassment. We appeal against hate speech and violence. INEC working in conjunction with security agencies is to ennsure transparent elections in the two states,” he assured.
Earlier, the chairman of the Inter Party Advisory Council (IPAC), Peter Ameh, had urged INEC not to be put under any pressure by the Senate advocating the de-registration of registered political party.