INEC raises alarm over new vote-buying method

•INEC Chairman, Yakubu Mahmood

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Monday raised alarm over new a new method of vote-buying being devised to undermine the voting process.

INEC Chairman Mahmood Yakubu disclosed this in Abuja at the presentation of the Voter Register for the 2019 general election to political parties.

Yakubu said that the commission had received credible information that some partisan actors were going around buying up Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) from voters or financially inducing them to collect the Voter Identification Numbers (VIN) on their PVCs.

“In some instances, telephone numbers and details of bank accounts of voters have been collected. By collecting the PVCs, their intention may be to deprive the voters of voting since no one can vote without the PVC.

“By collecting their phone numbers and bank details, the intention is to induce voters by electronic transfer of funds to their accounts since it will be difficult to buy votes at polling units.

“By collecting the VINs, they may be acting on the mistaken notion that our system can be hacked into and the Card Readers somehow preloaded ahead of the election and compromised.

“We want to reassure Nigerians that we are aware of the new tricks. It is a futile effort.

“We will work with the security agencies to deal with the violators of our electoral laws, including those who may be trying to compromise our staff responsible for making the PVCs available for collection by legitimate voters.’’

Yakubu said that the commission had responded to the vote-buying menace in three ways, including the alteration of the configuration of polling units by moving the ballot boxes closer to the voting cubicles, making it difficult for voters to expose their marked ballot papers.

“Secondly, we have introduced a partial ban on the use of mobile phone and other photographic devices by voters while in the voting cubicles.

“Thirdly, we are introducing the rolling and flattening of ballot papers by voters before casting them into the ballot boxes.’’

Yakubu disclosed that after the mandatory display of the register in all polling units nationwide for claims and objections from November 6 to November 12, 2018, the final register for the 2019 general elections stood at 84,004,084 voters.

“This is the register that will be presented to each political party at today’s meeting. It is also the same register that will be available at each polling unit nationwide on election day.’’

Excerpted from a Tribune report