Musa Abubakar, acting Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), has said the commission would join forces with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to address the menace of vote buying.
Speaking during a visit to the INEC boss, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, in Abuja on Monday, Abubakar said ICPC has the power to prosecute any bribery and corruption-related offence, vote buying inclusive, hence its readiness to eliminate the trend.
“The ICPC is empowered to investigate and prosecute any person involved in any act of bribery and corruption under any laws that prohibit corruption.
“I believe the Electoral Act also has provisions that deal with corruption and all forms of malpractices during the election. So, vote-buying is one of the corrupt practices under both our law and Electoral Act.
“The main reason for this visit is to identify with the commission and the general public on the issue of vote-buying. We assure you that the ICPC is ever ready to partner INEC to ensure that this trend is totally eliminated or reduced to the barest minimum,” he said.
While commending ICPC for offering its partnership, Yakubu said the electoral commission is determined to ensure vote buying does not influence winners of the 2019 elections.
“The votes cast by citizens will continue to determine who wins in our elections. We are focusing more on the processes leading to that outcome.
“The outcome of any election is in the hand of the voter, but we are responsible for ensuring that the process is free and credible,” he said.
A few weeks ago, the Social Economic Rights and Accountability Project SERAP, brought INEC before a federal high court in Lagos for failing to prosecute politicians who allegedly bought votes during the Ekiti State polls.
INEC had told the advocacy organisation that while it had prosecution powers, it needed other bodies to make arrests and conduct investigations. SERAP had thus sued for the commission to partner with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) or ICPC to indict the said vote buyers.
With the offer of partnership now extended by ICPC, an avenue for such politicians to be charged to court could be opened ahead of the Osun State gubernatorial polls.