The Means to further ensure transparency of election process has gotten another boost as the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had resolved that henceforth any kind of phones usage at any polling units across the federation during vote casting would face prosecution.
The developments came as result of wide usage of phones as means to open-up the secret balloting system the body had adopted in ensuring that the choice of voters are kept in secret, where recent development had shown that vote buying is now another method used in capturing its ballots paper to identify the party voted before money is said to exchange hands.
The Chairman of the commission, Prof Mahmud Yakubu made this disclosure in a sensitization event in Abuja said its implementation would begin with September 22 governorship elections in Osun state.
He said the decision was a deliberate measure to put a stop to the menace of vote buying, which he said was threatening the country’s democracy.
“In most cases, you see people vote and snap the ballot paper to show to party agents that they have voted as evidence to be paid.” This, he said, can no longer be tolerated.
The INEC boss said the present leadership of the commission has been more transparent than what obtained 10 years ago and would never degenerate to the level of condoning any form of electoral malpractices in any way.
Yakubu noted that the deployment of Information Communication Technology (ICT) has helped reduce electoral fraud, saying most infractions take place before the conduct of elections and at polling units, with the support of politicians.
INEC, Yakubu assured, would use the Osun State governorship election as a test case against vote-buying, vowing to partner with the security agencies to make arrests and prosecute defaulters to serve as a deterrent to others.
At the occasion, the recently-elected Chairman of the Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC), Mr Peter Ameh, noted that the menace of vote-buying was putting credibility questions mark on elections.
Other participants, including civil society groups and non-governmental organizations, attributed the worrisome trend of vote-buying to poverty and hunger.