The United Global Resolve for Peace (UGRFP), an NGO, has decried alleged financial inducement of voters in the Anambra State governorship election which was held on Nov. 18.
Mr Olaseni Shalom, UGRFP’s Executive Director, in a statement on Monday in Abuja, said that such act was an embarrassment to Nigeria’s democracy and should be checked.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had on Sunday declared the incumbent governor of Anambra, Mr Willie Obiano of All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), the winner of the election.
Thirty-six candidates contested the election.
Shalom said that the Anambra experience had made it imperative for immediate electoral reforms that would combat the menace of money distribution during elections in Nigeria.
“ Our on-the-field correspondents during the just concluded Anambra State elections have made available to us cogent and compelling evidence that notable politicians distributed money to voters, in numerous ward, in a bid to influence them to vote for their candidate.
“ Prior to the elections, we gave severe warning about this act and demanded that it be avoided in the process.
“We hereby denounce this act once again, as an embarrassment to democracy and governance.
“We demand that the stakeholders in our democracy must always be prepared to purge themselves of this dangerous thinking if our democracy is to advance.’’
According to him, elections are to test the people’s choice of their leaders; and also the only fundamental right remaining in the hands of citizens to participate in governance.
He said that votes were an ideal representation of the collective conscience and mandate of the people and should not be traded under any circumstance.
Shalom said that there was an urgent need to criminalise electoral offences and establish special electoral offences court.
“We insist that INEC invokes its powers under Part VIII of the Electoral Act 2010 (As amended 2015) to immediately apply for security assistance of the Nigerian Police, and bring to book those violating the electoral laws of this country with impunity.
“May we remind the commission that section 124 and 130 of the Electoral Act makes it an electoral offence punishable by 12 month imprisonment or fine, for any person during an election who bribes another or, who uses money to induce voters to vote in a certain manner during election.
“ The incidence of money distribution to voters by the political parties and the scrabbles by the poor vulnerable voters, who even got injured in the process, was the most regular feature.
“We demand that all those who distributed money at the Anambra state gubernatorial election be arrested and prosecuted immediately under part VIII of the Electoral Act,’’ he said.
The executive director advocated the creation of a special election taskforce of the Nigerian Police charged with apprehension and prosecution of electoral offenders.
He urged security agents to address, within the ambit of human rights, the threats posed by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) which might have resulted in the low turnout of voters.
Shalom congratulated Obiano for emerging victorious in the election.