2023 Elections: INEC, Police Declare War Against Vote buying, Assure of Credible Polls

Ahead of the 2023 general elections, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the Nigeria Police have restated their readiness to prevent vote buying as part of the effort to conduct credible and corrupt-free polls across the country.
The stakeholders assured citizens that preparations for the successful conduct of the polls devoid of malpractice were in top gear during a radio town hall meeting against electoral corruption organized by the Progressive Impact Organisation for Community Development (PRIMORG) at the weekend in Abuja.
INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, said the Commission is ready to conduct the elections, revealing that the electoral body has already deployed sensitive and non-sensitive materials up to the local government level.

INEC’s Deputy Director Voter Education Mary Nkem

Mahmood, represented by Deputy Director Voter Education Mary Nkem, further assured that the innovation of the Bimodal Voters Accreditation System (BVAS) had eliminated impersonation from elections in Nigeria. She disclosed that INEC’s ad-hoc staff are under oath not to compromise the process.
On his part, CSP Femi Adedeji, who represented Force Public Relations Officer (FPRO) – Nigeria Police Force during the radio town hall meeting, also declared that “the Police is very ready for the 2023 election”.
Adedeji disclosed that the Police had deployed intelligence officers to sniff out people involved in vote trading, as well as set up desk officers across states who will receive complaints of vote trading and other forms of election malpractice.
Nkem, the INEC representative during the radio program, said to ensure Commission’s ad-hoc staff deployed on election day are upright, they go through a lot of training, scrutiny and supervision by staff of the commission.
“INEC is ready for this election coming up on Saturday, 25th of February and Saturday, 11th March, 2023, in that all our materials have been delivered to the state and have been batched to various local governments.
“We have commenced the training of poll officials, some have been completed, and our Supervisory Presiding Officers training is still ongoing for other levels of officials. The commission is ready because sensitive and non-sensitive materials have arrived in various states.”
On the integrity of the polls, Nkem said, “the use of BVAS in off-season elections has helped in curbing electoral malpractices, and added that collaborations with the Police and other law enforcement agencies are helping them to curb vote trading.
“in a deliberate attempt to stop vote buying, we have rearranged the voting cubicle and banned the use of mobile phones inside the voting cubicle.
“In the past, when a voter’s fingerprint fails to be authenticated, the voter will be given an incident form to fill to be able to cast his or her vote, and in that regard, you find out that so many people could impersonate, but with the BVAS, it will not be possible to impersonate because once your fingerprint fails to be authenticated, your face cannot fail especially if you are the owner of the face and you came with it to the polling unit,” she stated.
The police, according to CSP Femi Adedeji, will rely on the deployment of over 300,000 personnel and the commissioning of new equipment to help the Force deliver on its responsibilities during and after the elections.
“The Police are ready. The challenge used to be about the logistics, but in the last several days, those things have been overcome with the new equipment being commissioned, including buses, personnel, and carriers. Then we have more personnel on the ground deployed, intelligence officers. Then we have more uniformed officers that will be visible on election day.
“We have Policemen at every polling booth who will support the electoral officials and the police team who will be ready to respond with the use of force if there is a need for the use of force,” Adedeji stated.

From left: Co-Convener, Civil Society Situation Room, James Ugochukwu and the Head of Missions, Leadership and Accountability Initiatives, Henry Shield Nwazuluahu.

Other stakeholders present raised concerns ahead of the elections during the radio town hall meeting.
The Co-Convener, Civil Society Situation Room, James Ugochukwu, reflecting on the preparations ahead of the elections, blamed politicians for heating the polity with hate comments and campaign of calumny.
His words: “If we reflect on the style of the campaign over the past couple of months, we discovered that the campaign was not laced with issues, but it is completely in contravention of section 92 of the Electoral Act; tribalism, ethnicity, religiously bigotry, defamation of other candidates is what has dominated the campaign, and we a surprised that the security has not done their work by ensuring that they apprehend some of this people.”
Ugochukwu, however, called on the religious bodies (Christianity, Islam and Traditional religion) to be preachers of peace and remain neutral when it comes to the 2023 elections.
While the Head of Missions, Leadership and Accountability Initiatives, Henry Shield Nwazuluahu, said Nigerians are enthusiastic about participating in the 2023 elections because of years of bad governance.
Nwazuluahu warned citizens to be wary of misinformation sponsored by politicians ahead of the polls, noting that the dangers of misinformation and fake news are ‘enormous.’
“Nigerian politicians will always be who they are, and it’s the responsibility of the civil society, including organizations like PRIMORG, to keep Nigerians adequately informed. We’ve seen a series of deliberate propaganda and misinformation in the media in the past few weeks and months. People come up with posts and information that are deliberate to cause you to either not go out to vote on election day.
“We must be careful, “Nwazuluahu warned.

Participants during the town hall meeting.

PRIMORG’s town hall meeting against electoral corruption aims to protect the sanctity and credibility of elections in Nigeria. It has the support of the MacArthur Foundation.

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