…as YIAGA Africa calls on anti-corruption agencies to check vote buying
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Thursday distributed sensitive election materials to its 30 local government offices in Osun ahead of the state governorship election on Saturday, July 16.
The distribution of the materials at INEC office in Osogbo, was witnessed by agents of political parties, journalists and election observers.
Speaking to newsmen, Prof. Abdul-Ganiyu Raji, INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in the state, said the sensitive materials were taken to INEC local government offices under heavy security.
“We took delivery of the sensitive materials midnight of Wednesday, and it has been with us for about 36 hours. The party agents have seen the materials.
“These materials have been under very heavy security since the day we brought them and we also invited the party agents to witness the arrival, including the Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC) chairman,” Raji said.
He said five national commissioners and 12 supporting RECs were in the state already for the election and that each had been assigned the local government they would supervise.
Raji said some of the sensitive materials, like the Bi-modal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS), had been loaded into vehicles that would take them to their local government destinations.
“Earlier today, we loaded the BVAS into the vehicles. The ballot papers will now be loaded and each local government vehicles would now move out and we expect that in the next two to three hours, they will reach their destinations,” he said.
He said the materials (ballot papers and result registers) were customised according to the local governments and according to the polling units.
He told journalists to check election result sheets for his signature, saying result sheets without his signature would not be considered authentic
Meanwhile, an Election Monitoring Group, YIAGA Africa, has called on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) to arrest anyone attempting to buy or sell votes during Osun governorship election.
The Executive Director of the group, Samson Itodo, made the call during a news conference on Thursday in Osogbo.
Itodo said that political parties, candidates, and their supporters must refrain from vote-buying and the related practice of compromising the ballot’s secrecy and value of the vote.
He said, ” Yiaga Africa calls for better coordination with the EFCC and the ICPC in making arrests of political party leaders, agents and anyone attempting to buy or sell votes before the election and on election day.
“Security agencies should deploy monitoring mechanisms to checkmate and curtail personnel excesses on Election Day”.
Itodo said with a different political and security terrain, the Osun election would test the resolve of election stakeholders, especially the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and security agencies to conduct credible, transparent and peaceful election.
He appealed to INEC’s permanent and ad hoc staff, all security agents, political party candidates and their supporters, as well as all electorate to work together to ensure that the election is credible and peaceful.
“While INEC has expressed confidence in the state of its preparedness, YIAGA Africa urges the commission not to overestimate its capacity nor underestimate potential challenges that could undermine the election.
“The voters in Osun and Yiaga Africa expect that INEC and security agencies will deliver credible, peaceful and conclusive elections bereft of challenges of election logistics, technological failures, inconsistent application of electoral laws and guidelines, electoral violence and vote-buying”, he said.
The Programme Manager of the group, Cynthia Mbamalu , also said that vote buying reduced the quality of leadership and by extension affected Citizens’ participation.
“Thus, the social contract between citizens and government is becoming transactional rather than a relationship based on trust, accountability and demand for good governance,” she said.
In his remarks, Ezenwa Nwagwu, YIAGA board member, said the increasing activities of political thugs and cultists in the state were no doubt capable of threatening the safety of personnel, materials, and citizens on election day.
Nwagwu urged registered voters to come out en mass to vote for candidates of their choice.