INEC says rising election violence ‘frightening’

Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Wednesday said the growing trend of violence and vote-buying during elections have become a threat to Nigeria’s electoral process.

The commission, at the presentation Wednesday in Abuja of a report on Kogi and Bayelsa polls by a non-governmental organisation (NGO), NESSACTION, admitted that the two governorship elections were characterised by violence.

INEC’s National Commissioner and Chairman of the Information and Voter Education Committee (IVEC), Solomon Soyebi, spoke on behalf of the commission, saying Nigerians must discourage vote-buying during elections.

He said: “This new trend of violence in election is totally frightening. We will not fold our arms or close our eyes and pretend that we do not see. I want to assure you and say that it is the duty of all of us to find a way of doing away with violence from the electoral system.

“We must admit that there was huge violence in these last elections and it is a new trend. The elections were marred by a lot of violence, especially in Kogi State. Some people even said that there were more bullets in Kogi than ballot papers. I do not think this is something that is good for our electoral process.

“We should collectively find a way of doing away with violence from the electoral process. The will of the people is supreme and this should not be exchanged for violence.

“Another aspect, which is very clear, is this issue of vote exchange. People were willing to buy votes and we should begin to discourage vote-buying. It looks as if we are actually advertising because people are just willing to go there and sell their votes.”

The national commissioner told the gathering that the commission would look at the report carefully and implement its recommendations where necessary.

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