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Ekiti 2022: Group seeks criminalization of vote buying

A Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), the Stop-Violence Against Women in Politics (Stop-VAWIP) has called for the amendment of the Electoral Act to criminalise vote trading.

The Executive Director of the organization, Tumininu Adedeji, made the call at the post-election joint media briefing with the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps(NSCDC), Ekiti Command, Monday in Ado-Ekiti, the State’s capital.

The two organisations reviewed Saturday’s governorship election and how women were treated before, during and after the election.

Adedeji called for the amendment of the Electoral Act to punish anyone involved in vote trading.

She maintained that the amendment would sanitize the nation’s electoral system and make more voters have confidence in the system.

Adedeji decried the alleged harassment and intimidation of some women by agents of some political parties to buy their votes during the election, saying such act could many women from participating in future elections.

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“Priority voting was not given to pregnant women and nursing mothers in all polling units.

“The Electoral Act 2022 does not empower the security agencies to expressly arrest and prosecute electoral offenders.

“Women were coerced by both agents of vote-buying and selling with few cases and reported, hence there is need to step up the orientation and sensitisation programme to electorate from vote trading.

“There is a need to amend the Electoral Act, 2022 (as amended) to fully criminalise vote trading (vote selling and buying),” she said.

She urged government agencies to intensify efforts at promoting inter-agency to curb vote trading, including a service directory for election administrators and security agencies.

“Women should be encouraged and supported by government and political parties to increase their involvement in politics.

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“The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) should continue its engagement in elections in Nigeria and prosecute those arrested for vote trading to the fullest to serve as deterrent to others.

“The National Assembly and State Houses of Assembly should pass legislation that further women’s participation in politics.

“The civil societies should also increase their collaboration with NSCDC for the purpose of creating an enabling environment for women to in the political process without discrimination and/or fear of intimidation,” she said.

Adedeji commended women for coming out in their numbers to exercise their franchise on Saturday.

She also commended all stakeholders in the election, including INEC, security agencies, civil society organizations, media organizations, mobilizers and coordinators, traditional leaders, political parties and the electorate for the landmark electoral success recorded in Ekiti.

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Tolu Afolabi, Public Relations Officer, NSCDC, Ekiti Command, said the N-alert application, the alert system devised to facilitate response to incidents of violence, was used in the state during Saturday’s governorship election.

He assured that the device would also be deployed in the Osun State governorship election scheduled for July 16.

Afolabi urged the next administration in Ekiti to sustain and consolidate on the efforts of the Ekiti Women Policy and Ekiti Youth Agenda.

He stressed the need to step up orientation and sensitization programmes to vote trading, assuring that NSCDC would continue to conduct more public enlightenment on the availability and use of the N-alert application.

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