For Nigeria to have elections that would meet international standard, a coalition of election observer groups have called on the National Assembly to review the Electoral Act to make perpetrators of vote buying get jail terms in the country.
The coalition told the National Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Mahmood Yakubu , to set machinery in motion to ensure that such review is carried out before the 2019 general elections, to make the country’s election attain global reckoning.
The Ekiti-based civil society organisations which made this call in their report on the July 14 Ekiti governorship election, include: New Initiative For Social Development (NISD), International Federal of Women Lawyers (FIDA) and Centre for Social Justice, Good Health and Community Development (CSJGHCD).
They adjudged INEC and security agencies to have done creditably in the conduct of the election.
At a press conference jointly addressed by the NISD Executive Director, Abiodun Oyeleye and FIDA Programme Officer, Blessing Ajileye, on Monday, the groups noted that INEC improved tremendously in the conduct of the election compared to previous elections that were substantially rated to have either turned inconclusive or marred with irregularities.
They said the five security men per polling unit structure deployed for the conduct of the poll checkmated incidents of ballot snatching that had been identified to be the greatest impediment of electioneering in the past.
Oyeleye, who delivered the report , exonerated the police of complicity in the vote buying syndrome, noting that chasing the perpetrators around the polling units might distract their attentions from the fundamental function of protecting election materials, the electorate and INEC staff during elections.
“The election represented the will of the people of Ekiti State, with the exception of votes buying we noticed. Many of those who cast their votes were willing to be bought. Some even waited at the polling units waiting for the highest bidder. And our observation showed that all parties were culpable of this.
“We recommend effective sanctions for political parties who engage in inducement of voters to curb the ugly menace and this can only happen when the National Assembly review the existing laws.
“If you sell your votes, you can’t be expecting good roads, good healthcare delivery among others, because you have made politicians to see elections as investments.
“To help the INEC in this regard, governments must prioritise the welfare of the people. A situation whereby salaries and pensions are not paid for as long as seven or eight months can make people vulnerable to votes buying on election day”, Oyeleye stated.
Oyeleye applauded INEC for the prompt arrival of materials at the polling units, saying accreditation and voting commenced in most polling units in Ekiti as early as 8am.
On her part, the FIDA boss, Ajileye praised the security agencies , INEC and the electorate for giving out their best for the success of the election.
She added that 85 per cent of the smart card readers deployed in Ekiti were functional, stressing that this also added to the credibility of the election.
The FIDA chief urged the public to discountenance allegations that the security and INEC connived to fabricate figures in favour of a particular political party.