As preparations for the 2019 general election enters the home stretch, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has restated its determination to stamp out corruption in the electoral process to ensure that the will of the people is not subverted through financial inducement by desperate politicians.
To this end, and starting from the governorship election in Osun State this weekend, the Commission has fully mobilized its investigative resources in a proactive move to stem the incidence of vote buying and other financial inducements that had bedeviled the nation’s electoral process.
Specifically, the Commission expressed its resolve to monitor campaign financing by political parties, while calling on aspirants to elective offices to apprise themselves of the provisions of the Electoral Act on campaign financing as anything done outside the law would be considered as corrupt practices and dealt with accordingly.
The audacious move by the Commission, according to its acting Chairman, Ibrahim Magu, is part of a collaborative initiative that will see the EFCC join forces with other law enforcement organizations in the country to enforce the provisions of the Electoral Act which criminalizes financial inducement by political parties and their candidates during electoral campaigns and at polling centres on election day.
“We will be working with all stakeholders especially from the security and intelligence community to stop the practice of vote buying and other financial malpractices that undermine the integrity of our elections. It is important to state here that those who offer bribes for votes are as guilty as those who receive such gratifications. My candid advice to the electorates is to be vigilant and resist the temptation to sell their votes.
“After the widely acclaimed peaceful transfer of power from a sitting president, who was the candidate of the then ruling party, to the candidate of the opposition party in 2015, the 2019 general election offers Nigeria the opportunity to deepen her emerging democratic culture that is free and participatory. We must guard this process by shunning all forms of electoral malpractices”, Magu said.
The EFCC advised Nigerian voters to be vigilant in the exercise of their franchise, by resisting monetary inducement for votes as those who dangles such carrots cannot be trusted to protect their interest once in power.
As part of the Commission’s proactive efforts in securing the integrity of the electoral process and prevent the exercise from being used as avenue for money laundering, the EFCC has already launched massive, but discreet, surveillance of the financial flows of all the actors in the various political parties. The tracking process which is ongoing, will continue till all the scheduled elections are concluded.
Magu however assured that the Commission’s intervention will be moderated by national interest and the rule of law. “We will not take any step that is not sanctioned by law,” he said.
The Commission, which is currently prosecuting hundreds of electoral officials and politicians accused of complicity in the perpetration of electoral fraud to undermine the 2015 general elections for financial gains, also warns persons saddled with the conduct of the 2019 general election to learn from that experience. “No one who collects money to rig election will be spared”‘ Magu assured.
Finally, the Commission called on religious leaders, traditional rulers and civil society organizations across the country to come to the aid of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC by helping to educate the electorates to vote right and not sell their conscience for filthy lucre.