Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says it will arrest and prosecute anyone found buying votes during the Edo and Ondo governorship elections on Sept. 19 and Oct. 10 respectively.
Mr Festus Okoye, the INEC National Commissioner, Information and Voter Education Committee (IVEC), made gave the warning at a one-day sensitisation forum for journalists in Benin.
Okoye said there would be security personnel at each voting centre to ensure strict implementation of the directive.
“We will work closely with security agencies to arrest threats and degrade acts of violence,” he said.
The INEC national commissioner noted that there was no alternative to peaceful conduct of Edo and Ondo governorship elections on Sept. 19 and Oct. 10 respectively.
He said the governorship elections were end of tenure elections with strict and immovable constitutional and legal timelines.
He enjoined all stakeholders to go about their activities in a manner that would not jeopardise the conduct of the elections.
“There is no alternative to the peaceful conduct of these elections as the alternative will leave the people of the two states with a constitutional crisis that may be difficult to resolve.
“Both elections are also being conducted in difficult circumstances.
“Political parties and all the critical stakeholders in the electoral process must see the conduct of these elections as a national project that must be executed in strict compliance with all the safety protocols,” Okoye added.
According to him, the commission is determined to proceed with the conduct of the governorship elections and all the outstanding bye-elections.
Okoye, however, noted that the commission would not compromise the safety and welfare of its staff, ad-hoc staff as well as voters.
The Edo Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Johnson Alalibo, said the sensitisation forum was essentially for journalists to be conversant with the new development in the electoral process due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Alalibo gave the assurance that the commission was committed to the conduct of a free, fair and credible election in the Edo on Sept. 19.