Inter Party Advisory Council (IPAC) has condemned what it described as “brazen vote buying” in the just concluded Ekiti State governorship election.
Addressing a press conference in Abuja, yesterday, IPAC national chairman, Yabagi Yusuf Sani, said the election was characterised by brazen and outrageous vote buying, sundry electoral malpractices and voter apathy thereby putting in into question the legality of the process leading to declaration of Biodun Oyebanji, the candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) as the winner.
Sani said IPAC is deeply saddened and worried of the ugly high incidence of vote trading between electorate and political actors in open connivance with some security agents saddled with the responsibility of arresting electoral offenders and their sponsors and also prosecuting offenders to serve as a deterrent to others who would contemplate such heinous crimes against the fatherland.
He added that it is obvious that the voters who sold their ballots for a mess of electoral porridge have inadvertently mortgaged their future for the next four years by electing a leader who may not have necessarily been their choice if the election were to be devoid of obscene use of money to induce voters.
The IPC boss said this unfortunate vicious circle of electing leaders after inducement have been the bane of the nation’s democracy since Independence in 1960, particularly since the return of democracy in 1999, adding that election is the beauty of democracy, while the ballot is sacrosanct and should not be traded on for any reason or for no reason whatsoever.
He said the destinies of millions of fellow compatriots are at stake when the will and mandate of the people is brazenly stolen through vote buying by political buccaneers masquerading as democrats with a mission to loot our common patrimony.
Accordingly, IPAC called on the National Assembly to expedite action on the Electoral Offences Commission and urged President Muhammadu Buhari to assent to it before the 2023 general election. He said the arrest and prosecution of electoral offenders will restore sanity in the nation’s democratic process, adding that the police should quickly prosecute those arrested for vote buying in Ekiti State including INEC officials and security agents who aided and abetted the crime.
“The ugly Ekiti episode has eroded the value of the hard work by INEC which also has inadvertently affected the perception of the citizens as to the capacity of INEC to conduct and ensure credible election results, hence council urges the commission to meticulously evaluate its performance in Ekiti with a view to improving in the forthcoming
Osun State governorship election. Every vote must count and be counted in the overall result without inducement of the electorate. This is the only way to boost the nation’s electoral process and encourage massive voter turnout in subsequent elections. Nigerians yearn for a new lease of life and dividends of democracy, not carnage as obtainable today across the country,” he said.
Noting that the court is the temple of justice and a beacon of hope for all aggrieved and deprived citizens, the council urged aggrieved candidates and their political parties to approach the Ekiti State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal for redress and never resort to self-help.
“With the active participation of Nigerians, we shall enthrone genuine democracy in the country where every vote is counted and counts without financial inducement, harassment, rigging and violence. IPAC will continue to promote democracy and good governance in Nigeria. It is a task that must be done. We are all in it together. Together, we shall make Nigeria great again,” he said.