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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on Friday declared that it was working with the Independent National Electoral Commission and security agencies to eliminate vote-buying and would ensure it prevention in the forthcoming general elections.
Speaking at a commemorative event for the United Nations International Anti-Corruption Day 2022 in Abuja, the Chairman, EFCC, Abdulrasheed Bawa, said the importance of transparent, free and fair elections could not be overstated.
Anti-corruption agencies that were at the event included the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative and the Inter-Agency Task Team, among others.
Represented by the Director of Operations, Abdulkarim Chukkol, the EFCC chairman stated that it was in the interest of Nigerians that the anti-corruption movement ensure free and fair elections in 2023.
Bawa noted that the tragedy of recent elections in Nigeria was the problem of vote-trading, adding that both the political class who offered money and the voters who sold their votes for pittance were guilty.
“The consequence of the latter category is harsh. When electorates sell their votes, they lose the moral ground to ask for accountable leadership,” he said.
Bawa added that the EFCC in recent times had been involved in efforts to discourage the use of money to influence election outcomes.
He stated, “Some politicians, who distributed huge sums of money to influence the outcome of the 2015 presidential poll, are still being prosecuted by the commission, while hundreds of millions of naira were recovered.
“The commission in 2019 deployed operatives in polling stations across the country in a deliberate move to check the inducement of voters by desperate politicians and candidates. Arrests were made and many have been prosecuted and convictions recorded.
“Similar measures were taken during the Ekiti and Osun state elections recently and the recently concluded primary elections of the political parties as well; the commission’s operatives were deployed to convention grounds to prevent election inducement of party delegates.”
Bawa added, “These actually go a long way to demonstrate the commission’s commitment to reducing, if not eliminating the use of money to manipulate the electoral process.
“As the 2023 general elections approaches, the EFCC assures all Nigerians that it will do all within its powers, working with relevant stakeholders, particularly INEC and law enforcement agencies, to discourage vote-buying or voter inducement.”
The Chairman, Inter-Agency Task Team, Olusegun Adekunle, said the focus of the event was to come up with strategic approaches to combating corruption so as to enable sustainable development.
The Executive Secretary, NEITI, Ogbonnaya Orji, said the agency was committed to the fight against corruption, not just as a member of the IATT, but as a key facilitator in the anti-corruption process in the country.
He said, “Apart from hosting the Technical Unit on Governance and Anti-corruption Reforms as a department in NEITI, we have provided routine and ongoing support for the day-to-day operations of TUGAR for the past 10 years.
“Beyond providing operational and other support, NEITI has led the generation of extensive data and information that has facilitated accountability and progressive reforms in the extractive industry.”