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Wednesday, February 1, 2023

2023: No cellphones allowed at voting cubicles – INEC reminds Nigerian voters

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has reiterated its ban on smartphones in voting cubicles while participating in the forthcoming general elections.

The INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu said this on Monday, December 19, 2022, at the commission’s Stakeholders Summit on Addressing the Influence of Money on the 2023 General Elections in Abuja.

In attendance were representatives of the Nigeria Police Force, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission, media organisations, civil society organisation, and the Inter-Party Advisory Committee (IPAC).

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“Citizens must reject inducements to sway their votes through vote-buying. They must also engage effectively in stopping the negative use of money in our electoral process generally by reporting cases to INEC and other agencies. In addition, CSOs should make this a major plank of both their pre-election and election observation activities,” Yakubu said.

The INEC chairman stated that determiners in the fight against vote-buying include financial institutions, religious organisations, traditional institutions, the media, civic bodies, and above all citizens.

“Let me seize this opportunity to remind the public that the ban on cellphones at voting cubicles is still in force. We have for some time now reorganised our polling units so that ballot boxes are placed next to the voting cubicles to forestall the practice by unscrupulous voters showing their marked ballot papers to vote-buyers.

“We appeal to voters to draw the attention of our polling officials whenever they observe that these basic rules are not complied with. Let me once again reassure Nigerians that we are determined to ensure a solid election management system and a legacy of credible elections in Nigeria. We believe that every conscientious Nigerian wants us to do so,” he said.

Yakubu assured the public that INEC would continue to evolve measures to forestall the menace of vote-buying, adding that the commission’s loyalty remains to the citizens alone. INEC, he said, had adopted sophisticated technologies to ensure a credible process in the 2023 general elections.

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The Chairman of IPAC, Yabagi Sani expressed concern over the actions of some political actors who according to him are bent on subverting the electoral provisions by engaging in corrupt practices. 

Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG), Operations, Bala Ciroma, who represented the police, said several arrests of those involved in vote-buying had been made by the police. He disclosed that several thugs had also been arrested and are facing trial in courts of competent jurisdiction.

According to him, the police will deploy more operatives to ensure that politicians who go around with tons of.money to sway the conscience of voters are arrested.

The Director General of NBC, Balarabe Ilelah read the riot act to broadcast stations, warning them to desist from being used by politicians to promote divisive tendencies. He further mandated all broadcast stations to keep logs of their transactions during the election period as no broadcast station will be spared if found to be involved in acts capable of jeopardising the peace of the country.

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