Following the observation of the 2020 Edo Gubernatorial election, the Center for Democracy and Development (CDD) has expressed displeasure on the brazen buying of votes by political actors thus urged stakeholders to maintain electoral transparency.
Briefing Newsmen in Abuja, The Director CDD, Idayat Hassan said one major highlight of their findings focus on how the brazen buying of votes by the two major political parties in the election would taint the credibility of the outcome.
“The nature of vote-buying had become more sophisticated as politicians induced voters with such items as Ankara fabric, spaghetti, and cash ranging between N1000 and N5000″.
“The brazen manner with which votes were bought and sold in the open calls to question the relevance of the over 30,000 police officers deployed to enforce the law during the election. CDD is concerned that despite expending time and resources to deploy thousands of law enforcement officials to the electoral space, the officers did nothing in the face of infractions such as vote-buying”, she said.
According to Idayat: “CDD observers reported cases where tickets were also given in lieu of cash for voters to vote and then return to use the ticket for collection of the cash.
“In several other cases, as reported by our observers, cash of between N1000 and N5000 was distributed to voters who agreed to cast their ballot for the party paying for the vote”, she said.
The pro-democracy think tank lamented that despite the pervasive nature of vote-buying during the election, the law enforcement agencies, many of which were deployed in big numbers to Edo State, did not deem it necessary to apprehend and prosecute those who engaged in vote-buying.
Similarly, she stressed that other issues which stood out in the election was the attempt by politicians to shape narratives through the use of propaganda and false narratives on social media.
CDD noted that the high level of propaganda from the political actors made it difficult for voters to ascertain the truth about what was happening in the electoral terrain.
Meanwhile, Idayat said there was a need to specify, which of the law enforcement agencies would take responsibility for investigating and prosecuting those involved in the illegal acts of vote-buying.
“CDD observers reported that law enforcement officials largely looked the other way while vote-buying was going on. No efforts whatsoever were made to bring to book the perpetrators of these acts, which corrupt the electoral process.
Also, CDD observers reported seeing voters discreetly exchanging their voters’ cards with money from party agents at Polling Unit 8 Ward 2 of Okpon Area of Ovia-Southwest Benin which was a similar case in Etsako Central Ward: 1 Unit 5 and 6 where voters sold their votes for N1,000″.
A Senior fellow, CDD Jibril Ibrahim, in his remarks commended the voters for complying to the laid down protocols of Covid-19 preventing further spread of the novel virus.
Ibrahim said “Election is not a market” thus called on authorities to make an example by arresting and persecuting vote buyers and sellers.
He also urged stakeholders to maintain peace by not interfering in the decisions of the electoral body, thus they should exercise electoral reforms to ensure transparency and credibility.
The group however said the level of violence was not as widespread as being envisaged, as observers reported incidents of violence in Ikpoba Okha, Oredo, Esan West, and Oriohomwan due to the activities of political thugs who disrupted voting in different polling units.