By Emmanuel Oloniruha
The Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC) has called on the Nigeria Police Force to pay special attention to addressing open vote buying as the country prepares for Ekiti and Osun governorship elections.
INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu made the call when he received the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) , Ibrahim Idris, who paid him a courtesy visit at INEC headquarters on Wednesday in Abuja.
Yakubu said that the issue of vote buying was becoming worrisome to INEC as witnessed in recent elections.
He described vote buying as a violation of the electoral act and malpractice that the police must stop.
He described the police as a security agency responsible for securing peaceful environment for conducting credible elections in the country generally.
“Our democracy can never be on sale to the highest bidder, ours is a democracy and not a plutocracy for the rich.
“Therefore I would like to appeal to the IGP, as we approach the EKiti and Osun governorship elections and as we move to the 2019 general elections to pay particular attention to this disturbing practice.
“We will be happy if the police will deploy Special Forces beginning with Ekiti and Osun to ensure that what transpires at the polling units is nothing but the will of Nigerians.
“Only the votes cast freely by citizens would determine who wins the elections not the inducement of citizens by the use of cash at polling units during elections.
“ I am confident that given the level of cooperation and synergy we have with the police, this matter will be addressed.
Yakubu described the IGP’s visit as “essential routine visit’’ in preparation for the 2019 general elections as well as for the Ekiti and Osun states governorship elections, scheduled for July 14 and September 22 respectively.
Yakubu disclosed that the commission would release the election notice for Ekiti governorship poll on April 4 and that of Osun on June 23.
“In the case of the Ekiti governorship election, based on the timetable that was released by the commission, the notice of the election will be posted on April 4.
“Thereafter, campaigns by political parties in Ekiti will commence on April 15, while the Conduct of Party Primaries will take place simultaneously with the commencement of campaigns from April 15 May 14.
“The election proper will hold on July 14.
“In the case of Osun Governorship election, the notice of election will be pasted on June 23.
“Campaigns will commence on June 24, while the conduct of party primaries for the selection of candidates by political parties would hold between the June 24 to July 23.’’
Yakubu also disclosed that the conduct of Voter Registration at the Ward level in both states would be holding simultaneously from April 11 to April 16.
“We will make available further details, not just for the centres where the CVR would hold but also of centres where elections would be conducted.”
Speaking earlier, the IGP said that his visit was part of “continuous synergy and cooperation’’ between the police and INEC towards ensuring peaceful conduct of elections in the country.
“We are here as a continuous consultation with INEC in the preparations for the coming elections.
“I want all of us to be aware that from July and September this year, we are going to conduct some elections in Ekiti and Osun states.
“These two elections from this year are going to be a continuous exercise till next year when in 2019 we are going to conduct the general elections.
“So I want to inform you that because of this continuous consultation with INEC, you are going to see our faces more in an effort to ensure that we have peaceful elections in the coming months in Nigeria,’’ Idris said.