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Poverty major reason for vote-buying, says INEC

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The fight against vote buying and selling in Nigeria is seriously being frustrated by weak punitive sanctions against the perpetrators and increasing poverty  in the country, key stakeholders in electoral process have said.

They raised the concern during a policy dialogue with the theme, ‘Addressing vote-trading in Nigeria from global comparative experiences’, organised by the Electoral Forum in collaboration with the Open Society Initiative for West Africa and MacArthur Foundation.

The Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege, represented by his Chief of Staff, Otive Igbuzor, said that vote-trading had become an unusual democratic experience, which served as a clog in the wheel of free choice and democracy in Nigeria.

According to him, the menace had become a common phenomenon in Nigeria’s political system, which, he said, had brought negative consequences to the country’s electoral system.

While observing that vote-trading only guaranteed limited, elections-bound benefits for a few, but jeopardising the long-term fortunes of the majority, Omo-Agege called for stronger punitive sanctions against perpetrators and sustained information campaigns, community action and locally enforceable public commitments to collectively fight the menace.

He said, “To stem the ugly behaviour, everyone should be involved, both voters and contestants. It needs sustained information campaigns, community action and locally enforceable public commitments to collectively shun vote-buying.

“Punitive sanctions strategies are more likely to be successful than moralistic pleas. Political actors who buy votes should face stringent consequences. Political financing reform, and ensuring election security and ballot secrecy, are equally vital in addressing vote-selling. Most of this was taken care of in the new Electoral Act 2022 passed by the National Assembly and assented to by the president.”

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The chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, represented by a National Commissioner, May Agbamuche-Mbu, said the speedy passage of the National Electoral Offences Commission and Tribunal Bill by the National Assembly would checkmate vote-buying.

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The INEC boss admitted that poverty was largely responsible for the menace. He, however, expressed confidence that the tide would change soon as Nigerians were beginning to have faith in the electoral process.

Yakubu said, “We are going to intensify voter education and sensitise the people more with regards to vote-buying. People have also talked about poverty. Yes, we all know it’s poverty. But I think also that as soon as people begin to have faith in the electoral process, they will begin to see the power that they have over the people who are running for offices. And I believe that very soon, the story will change and the power will return to the people.”

The chairman of Electoral Forum Chairman, Prof. Bayo Olukoshi, said there had been a global consensus that seeking to eliminate the use of money in politics was almost impossible and waste of time because politicians would find ways to bring the use of money into the political equation.

According to him, democracies around the world had moved away from elimination to regulation of the use of money in politics, in a way to ensuring that the use of money did not corrupt integrity of the electoral process.

Olukoshi said, “So, money in politics is a global challenge, especially criminal money which are unaccounted and very difficult to trace. However, in our context, the debate around the issue of money in politics is again not an entirely new debate for those who are old enough to know the politics of the Second Republic where we saw increasingly the significant role of money as opposed to issues and ideas entering the Nigerian political space.

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“But what happened in the Second Republic will seem to have been a child’s play compared to what we are dealing with today, in which it is absolutely clear that if you do not have a well-oiled godfather sponsoring you, or you do not have the resources of your own to oil your political machinery, you are not likely regardless of how beautiful your ideologies may be or your record of personal integrity and achievement may be, you are not likely to be able to make a dent on our political system.

“Much more than that is the fact that the use of money has gone beyond simply capturing political parties and structures to infiltrate the wider electorate.”

Speaking on the ‘Socio-political paradox of vote-trading in Nigeria: Focus on the political party primaries and the recent Ekiti and Osun governorship elections’, the immediate past Resident Electoral Commission, Rivers State, Obo Effanga, said the malaise of vote-trading required the involvement of a multiplicity of stakeholders, agencies, and groups to address it.

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He traced the root of the menace to the economic imbalance and inequality in Nigeria, which if fixed, according to him, would to a large extent reduce the “number of poor people whose vulnerability currently is such that they can easily be dangled pittance in exchange for their vote.”

Effanga lamented that vote-trading is also aided and abetted by security officials at the polling unit, adding that this could happen either by failure to ensure adequate arrangement to guarantee secrecy of the vote or failure to take steps to prevent those who try to breach the rules.

SEE ALSO:  Woman jailed 6 months for hawking currency at Lagos event centre

“The law enforcement agencies, including the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission must ensure appropriate steps to stem or react to incidents of vote-trading, before, during, and after each election. I am not sure we yet have records of anybody picked or investigated for vote-trading during all the political party primaries this year.

“However, it is also a paradox that those saddled with the responsibility to fix the economy are also the primary beneficiaries of the vote-trade – politicians. Therefore, it would appear that it serves their purpose to keep the economy in shambles in order to sustain the vote-trading market dynamics,” he stated.

On his part, chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission, Bolaji Owasanoye, represented by provost of the Anti-corruption Academy, Prof. Olatunde Babawale, warned that vote-buying has a tendency of frustrating and undermining the war against corruption in Nigeria.

He said the ICPC was working with INEC to tackle the menace.

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86-year-old woman set ablaze by daughter over alleged witchcraft

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Gunmen abduct Company MD, three foreigners in Lagos
A 45-year-old woman simply identified as Abiodun and popularly called “Iya Sunday,” has set her mother ablaze in a bid to kill her.

Abiodun was told by a Pastor that she would be free from a spiritual bondage after the death of her 86-year-old mother.

Witnesses said the suspect poured petrol on her mother and set her ablaze on Friday morning around 5am.

The incident happened at Surulere, opposite Anglican Cathedral Church in Ondo West local government area of Ondo State.

Gory picture of the victim showed that she sustained severe burns all over her body and receiving treatment in an undisclosed hospital.

An eyewitness, Sola Oladele, said the suspect came to her mother’s house in the early hours of Friday.

He said she called out her mother before pouring petrol on her and setting her on fire.

According to him: “What happened between them before the incident we don’t know, but the suspect has been arrested by police at the Enu-Owa division for further investigation.”

Abiodun said her action was because she was told that her mother was behind her predicament.

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She said: “I went to my mother’s house around 4 a.m. and sat outside. When it was 5 am, I called out my mother from the house. Immediately after she came out, not knowing what was happening, I poured petrol on her body and set her on fire.

“What started it is that I went to one Pastor for prayers and he told me that my mother is behind what is happening to me. I did not believe it at first. My mother also took me somewhere to see one woman. After my mother left, the woman also said the same thing.

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“I burnt my mother because of what I heard from the pastor and the woman, that I can only be freed from bondage when my mother is dead.”

Police sources said the case would be transferred to the Police headquarters in Akure for further investigation. (The Nation)

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Gunmen abduct Company MD, three foreigners in Lagos, demand $1.5m ransom

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File: Kidnappers
Armed men suspected to be kidnappers have abducted four Lebanese including the Managing Director of Fouani Company, a prominent representative of LG and Hisense.

According to credible sources, the victims were travelling by boat from Apapa to Victoria Island when they were ambushed near Falomo Bridge. The kidnappers, whose identities are unknown, have demanded an astounding $1.5 million ransom.

Police Public Relations Officer of the Lagos State Police, Benjamin Hundeyin, confirmed the incident and stated that an investigation is ongoing.

He said, “Yes, we received the report and are investigating it.”
“We are currently working with their families and the Lebanese community to get them released,” Hundeyin explained.

However, the abduction has sparked outrage in the business community, with many calling for increased security measures to protect citizens.

The incident raises concerns about the safety of Lagos’ waterways and the effectiveness of law enforcement agencies in combating crime.

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ICPC grills woman who accused suspended Perm Sec of S*xual harassment

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ICPC grills woman who accused suspended Perm Sec of Sexual harassment
 •Suspended Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ibrahim Lamuwa
Simisola Fajemirokun-Ajayi, the woman who accused the Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ibrahim Lamuwa, of s*xual harassment, has been grilled and thereafter released by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC).

This is in the wake of an ongoing investigation by the Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation (OHCSF), following a letter from the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Yusuf Maitama Tuggar, in response to a petition written by Fajemirokun-Ajayi, against the permanent secretary.

In an exclusive interview with Daily Trust Saturday, an official of the ICPC said that Mrs Fajemirokun-Ajayi was quizzed for hours by the crack detectives of the commission over her allegations.

The official, who did not want his name in print, said Fajemirokun-Ajayi arrived at the commission’s headquarters at about 9:40 am, on Friday, alongside her lawyer; responded to various questions posed to her.

“She wasn’t arrested. She was invited and she honoured the invitation to come and substantiate the s*xual harassment allegations against the Permanent Secretary of her ministry, Ibrahim Lamuwa,” the official said.

The official said she was released after the interrogation on Friday, adding that she would still be called upon in future to make further clarifications if there is a need for her to do so.

Ambassador Lamuwa had responded to the query issued him by the head of service, denying all the allegations labelled against him.

The ICPC’s invitation letter inviting Mrs Fajemirokun-Ajayi was addressed to the minister of foreign affairs, requesting him to release her for questioning.

SEE ALSO:  Woman jailed 6 months for hawking currency at Lagos event centre

The ministry received the ICPC letter titled: ‘Investigation Activities: Notice of Invitation’ on Thursday.

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It said: “In view of the above and pursuant to sections 28 and 40 of the said Act, you are kindly requested to release and direct Mrs Simisola Fajemirokun-Ajayi of the Ministry to appear for an interview before the undersigned at the Commission’s Headquarters, Abuja, on Friday, 14 June 2024 at 10:00 hours,” read the invitation letter dated June 11, and signed by Acting Director of Operations, S. Yahaya.

It is not immediately clear whose petition led to the ICPC investigation or what exactly the agency is investigating.

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