The Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre (WARDC) has called on anti-corruption agencies to stop vote buying and selling as Nigerians go to the polls on Saturday.
The organization said the commercialisation of votes had continued because the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Independent Corrupt Practices and Other-Related Offences Commission (ICPC) had failed the country in the discharge of their responsibilities.
The Executive Director of WARDC, Dr Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, made the observations in a statement entitled, “Women groups call for votes for female candidates, advocate zero tolerance for election violence and vote buying”, issued on behalf of Womanifesto group, including the National Coalition on Affirmative Action (NCAA), Gender and Constitution Reform Network (GECORN), and Gender Technical Unit (GTU).
While calling on Nigerians to “vote for women for a better Nigeria,” WARDC announced the deployment of 400 candidates in 27 states to observe the election.
The statement reads, “Vote buying is an act of electoral malpractice and any attempt to influence the electorate to vote in favour of a particular candidate or party is an electoral offence under the electoral Act 2022 and an action to further disenfranchise women candidates.
“We call on anti corruption agencies to ensure that they do the needful to respond where vote buying occur; the reasons why vote sales have continued without abating is because anti corruption agencies are not doing enough.
“We encourage Nigerians to shun any, and all forms of vote buying despite the cash crunch and economic hardship prevalent particularly at this time in our country as a result of the Naira redesign. Vote buying and electoral violence is a threat to our democracy and an act of corruption. It also jeopardizes our electoral integrity and accountability process.
“As Nigerians head to the polls to conduct the 2023 general election to elect the President and members of the National Assembly on February 25, WARDC and four leading Nigerian women network and coalitions call for citizens vote for women candidates across political parties, presenting names of women candidates across Nigeria.
“We are concerned about the low number of women and the impact of vote buying and electoral violence on the votes of women and girls..The group deployed 400 candidates across 27 states to observe the election.
“We therefore call on all citizens to shun any forms of vote buying, vote women into the National Assembly to increase women’s participation, maintain peace, and shun violence.
“Women in Nigeria constitute half the number of voters and population, and often the target of all forms of electoral violence and vote buying. Last elections saw rape and other forms of sexual violence against women, 2019 also had female election officers been targeted for violence.
“Prior to election Kimpact Development Initiative data shows about 385 incidents of electoral violence reported amongst which was the report of the death of the woman leader of Labour Party in Kaduna and other attacks on citizens.
“2022 has also recorded attack on election management bodies, which provides context for caution and fear. We call on security agents to secure electorates and play their constitutional roles in this regard.
“We further admonish every Nigeria to play an active role to ensure a free fair and credible election without any form of violence so as not to truncate our democratic process/journey.
“Hence, we call on Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to ensure and enforce strict compliance with the Electoral Act 2022, which seeks to curb vote buying and electoral violence.
“Finally, we are not intimidated to call on citizens to vote women for a better Nigeria.”