INEC Moves To Check Vote Buying in Ekiti, Osun Guber Polls

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Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has held a dialogue session to find ways to curb incidence of vote-buying in the forthcoming governorship elections in Ekiti and Osun States.

Speaking at the roundtable discussion in Abuja yesterday tagged: ‘Anambra 2017: a Postmortem and lessons for 2018 elections in Ekiti, and Osun States Commission,” an INEC National Commissioner, Prof. Okey Ibeanu, said the aim is to improve on measures to check violence and vote-buying.

“I want to tell you that the dialogue helped to put the commission on the right pedestal in order to ensure that Anambra State elections were not only successful but also non-violent and hitch-free.

“I believe that the discussions will further help the commission not only to improve on the work in progress but also add mor spice to the innovations that are already in place,” he said
Ibeanu also said the idea behind the roundtable was to see “how INEC can leverage on both successes and failures in the last major election in Anambra State to improve our policies, procedures and processes in Ekiti  and Osun State elections and ultimately in the 2019 general election.”

 The commissioner said although Anambra State bore the brunt of the test run of various policies and innovations of the commission, the success registered in the elections was obvious and palpable.
He said the commission has noted the mistakes and would apply it in subsequent elections to make the process better.
Guest speakers at the event lamented that vote-buying has become pervasive and it seems neither INEC nor security agencies have been able to do much about it.

According to them, the 2017 Anambra State governorship election alongside recent governorship elections in Bayelsa State (2015/2016), Edo State (2016), Ondo State (2016), legislative rerun elections in Rivers State (2016) and Osun West senatorial district by-election (2017) have been fraught with brazen and public incidences of vote buying. INEC should urgently organise a technical workshop aimed at identifying ways for mitigating vote-buying.

Meanwhile, a coalition of civil rights groups involved in elections monitoring, the Situation Room, has lamented the non-conclusion of Amendment of Electoral Act six months before election
Speaking at the forum of the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room in Abuja yesterday, the convener of the Situation Room, Clement Nwankwo, emphasised on the need to ensure that the legal framework for the election must be in place to have peaceful conduct of the polls.

He said nearly a hundred clauses passing through amendment only 11 have been passed with the input by the state assemblies.
He regretted the inability of the president to accent to bills.
Nwankwo also identified collation of election results as the weak link in the past elections and that it is important that all lose ends are tied up before the elections.

One  of the resource persons, Mr. Festus Okoye, also said there was need for certainty in the electoral process regarding the exact legal and constitutional framework that would govern the conduct of elections.
The Situation Room also suggested that the leadership of the judiciary, the electoral management body and the donor community must organise training programmes for election petition judges to update them on new issues and challenges in the management and handling of election petitions.