Acting chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission, ICPC, Dr. Musa Usman Abubakar, has declared that vote buying and selling is corruption and warned various political parties, their candidates, agents and other Nigerians against it before and during the 2019 general elections.
Abubakar spoke over the weekend during the national campaign against vote buying and other electoral malpractices organized by the ICPC in conjunction with the Youth Alive Foundation, YAF and facilitated by the Ummah Support Initiative, a member of the commission’s National Anticorruption Coalition, NACC, in Abuja.
He said: “Vote buying and selling is corruption. It can take various forms, such as collecting payment from candidates before or after voting for them. Such payments are usually made through agents either direct or through phone transfer.
“This is outright bribery and it is punishable under the ICPC Act, 2000. Other forms of electoral malpractices punishable under the ICPC law include rigging in whatever form. Rigging could take the form of falsifying election results by changing figures to favour particular candidates. This is falsification of official records and punishable under the ICPC, Act, 2000”.
Abubakar informed that Section 6(a) of the Act empowers ICPC to prosecute corruption offenders using “both the ICPC Act and any other law that fights against bribery and gratification apart from ICPC Act itself”, adding that the Electoral Act, 2011 as amended is one of such laws emphasized in Section 26 (2) of the ICPC Act.
The ICPC boss, who listed some of the commission’s contributions to the fight against buying and other electoral malpractices in the country, commended the YAF for its achievements in the fight against corruption, especially its recent Integrity Award which named and famed credible Nigerians of integrity.
“If honesty is appreciated, many Nigerians would like to be honest and the fight against corruption will be more successful and a lot easier”, he said.
Also, a public affairs analyst, Imam Ishaq Abdullahi, described the growing culture of vote buying and selling as worrisome, stressing that use of cash to induce voters is a violation of the Electoral Act.
Abdullahi, who particularly warned the youth against the act, noted that if care was not taken electorate would end up voting for people who do not have policies and those that are only interested in syphoning public funds.
He said: “If you sell your votes with just N5, 000, you won’t have the audacity to criticize the government of poor performance or lack of delivering dividends of democracy. I therefore urge you not to mortgage your future with vote buying and selling”.
“Try and vote for candidates of your choice without allowing any political party or politicians dictating to you on who to vote for. When you do so, it always backfires with dire consequence. Your vote is your power and once you sell your vote, you have sold your power and conscience”.
Other speakers at the event advised Nigerians against vote buying and selling, saying if not stopped could hamper the growth of democracy in the country.