The Transition Monitoring Group (TMG) has urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to step up its campaign on legal implications of vote buying as people of Osun prepare for Saturday’s governorship election.
Its Chairperson, Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, spoke on Thursday in a telephone interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja.
NAN reports that the electoral umpire had announced that although voters could come along with their electronic gadgets, including phones, to polling units, the voters would not be allowed to go with them to the point of voting as a way of checkmating vote buying.
TMG, a coalition of civil right groups, which commended INEC on its decision, said the call became necessary because majority of the electorate were unaware of the legal implications of such electoral offence.
”I think that INEC has taken the right step within its powers because INEC is not the agency that arrests. Their work is to conduct elections.
”So what it can do is to safeguard the conduct of the election in a manner that it will not give room to vote buying.
”Often times, vote buying is done outside of the polling units. It was until recently that it became an open market where it became a vote trading.
”Now, for me, beyond what INEC has done, it is important for people to understand the legal implications of vote buying, to understand that it is a crime by virtue of the law of the land to sell or buy vote.
”I would expect that beyond what INEC has done, the Voter Education Department of INEC would paste all around the polling units the legal implications of vote buying.
”The reason people do it is that it is an abnormal thing that has turned normal and they are even ignorant of the consequences.
”However, we hope that in this coming election, there will be prosecution of those culpable of vote buying,” she said.
According to her, until people are prosecuted, there will be no deterrent.
She said it was disheartening that presently, vote buying was still being done with impunity in the country.
Akiyode-Afolabi, who said she was already in Osun to monitor the election, added that TMG had deployed 300 observers across the 30 local government areas of the state for the poll.