The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has partnered with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to tackle the issue of open votes buying.
This is even as the electoral body has called asked the anti-graft agency to help to monitor political parties campaign funds.
INEC Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, made the appeal on Thursday when he received the Chairman of the EFCC, Ibrahim Magu, who paid him a courtesy visit at the Commission’s headquarters in Abuja.
Yakubu explained that the commission required the support of the anti-graft agency in the two key areas especially as the 2019 general elections draw near.
He submitted that the country’s democracy should be determined by the citizen through their votes and not through the highest bidder.
His words: “INEC is worried by the recent trend of open vote buying at polling stations. Some candidates have started to go to voting units with sack of money to induce votes.
“Votes of citizens should determine who win in an election. Our democracy must never be on sale in an open market. It is the will of the people that should determine who wins.
“Therefore, we look forward to work very closely with the EFCC to ensure that open vote buying will not affect the commission.
“We don’t want 2019 general elections to be determined by the amount of money people have or who run for elections into offices. Votes are never for sale. It is the right of Nigerians to vote whoever they want.
“The second area is about party and campaign finance. The electoral Act places limit as to amount parties and individuals can spend and also the amount friends of candidates can contribute in any election.
“We will like the EFCC with both the mandate and the capacity to track and trace sources of fund to work very closely with us so that we can operate within the limit of the law.
“Our democracy is never be on sale and will never be on Sale. I believe working with the EFCC we can achieve that”.
Yakubu said arising from the outcome of the 2015 general elections, INEC received a report from the EFCC from which 205 staff of the electoral agency was interdicted.
He said that did not mean there were not hard working and honest people in the commission, saying there are essential hard working staff in the commission, from which 7,330 of them were promoted in 2017.
He assured assure Nigerians that INEC would remain an unbiased empire, assuring that the commission will not work for any candidate or party.
On his part, Magu said he was in the commission to reiterate the commission’s support to INEC, saying the two commissions were already in collaborations in areas investigations, prosecution of election offenders.
While urging Nigerians to join EFCC in the fight against corruption, he appealed to them to take advantage of the ongoing Continuous Voters Registration and obtain their Permanent Voter Card (PVC).
OWEDE AGBAJILEKE, Abuja