Femi Makinde, Osogbo
The Independent National Electoral Commission on Sunday visited some places of worship to sensitise the people of Osun State who have not collected their permanent voter cards to do so and to tell them about the evils of vote-buying.
The Resident Electoral Commissioner in Osun State, Mr Olusegun Agbaje, led other officials of the commission to the Winners’ Chapel in Osogbo to address congregants on the readiness of the electoral umpire to conduct a credible poll on September 22.
The REC also later took the campaign to NASFAT where he preached the same message to the adherents there.
Agbaje, while addressing the congregation at Winners’ Chapel, urged the people of the state to shun any form of inducement to vote for any of the candidates in the election, saying the INEC had been working hard in collaboration with security agencies to ensure that vote-buying was stopped in Osun election.
The REC, who said the 2019 general elections would be badly affected by vote-buying if the emerging electoral fraud was not stopped in Osun State, vowed that he would move round during the election to ensure that offenders were arrested.
He said anybody arrested for any electoral offence would be prosecuted in order to serve as a deterrent to others.
He said, “The Osun governorship election is very important to Nigerians. The whole country is waiting for us; the international community is waiting to see how this election would go. The United States Ambassador, the United Kingdom High envoy have come to meet us, to advise us on how they are doing it in their countries.
“This election will showcase how the 2019 general elections will be and we are ready to make it credible. We have been going round to sensitise the people. We want to implore those who have not collected their PVCs to do so because that is the only thing you can use to make an impact in the election. About 72.5 per cent have collected and we still have about 400,000 PVCs uncollected.
“Vote-buying is an issue and it is embarrassing to the commission. Vote-buying is an electoral offence and it is against the Electoral Act to induce voters to vote for a candidate or to vote against a candidate. We are determined to make a statement against vote-buying in Osun election. If we don’t kill vote-buying in Osun election then we will have a problem in 2019.”
He tasked the people of the state to report any INEC official caught engaged in any wrongdoing to him and also asked them to report him to the INEC Chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, if they caught him in any illicit act.
The REC dispelled the rumour that the commission was recruiting Osun Youth Empowerment Scheme cadets as ad hoc staff for the conduct of the election.