Ibrahim Magu, the acting chairman of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), has described electoral malpractices as the worst form of corruption in Nigeria.
According to Magu, electoral corruption undermines the will of the people and invests power in illegitimate hands.
A statement by the EFCC quoted Magu as saying a government that pays its way into power is hardly expected to be accountable as he argued that such administration’s priority upon assumption of office would be how to recoup its investment.
Legit.ng understands that Magu said this through the secretary of the commission, Ola Olukoyede at the national policy dialogue on eradicating electoral corruption (vote-buying) at the Anti-Corruption Academy of Nigeria on Tuesday, April 16, 2019.
The EFCC boss noted that the dialogue was critical to “our collective aspiration to clean up the institutions and process of election management for the good governance of our nation.
“It was in appreciation of the damage, which the incidence of vote buying does to the integrity of our electoral processes that we resolved to play a more active role in stemming the practice in the just concluded general election. The EFCC’s intervention was moderated by our understanding of the pattern of vote buying in the elections that were held in two states, Ekiti and Osun states, in 2018.”
He said to stem what it called ‘the ugly practice’, it decided to employ a combination of preventive and enforcement strategies.
He further said before the political actors became aware that the commission had become unusually interested in the electoral processes, the EFCC held sensitisation meetings with critical stakeholders in the financial sector, impressing on them the need not to lend their institutions to be used as vehicles to subvert the will of the people.
“Our engagement with them was informed by our knowledge of the roles which some of them played during the 2015 general election, helping politicians to move huge sums of money which were intended to be used to compromise election officials and other actors in the electoral process,” he said.
He explained also how the commission had to engage with law enforcement agencies with anti-money laundering mandate in neighbouring countries to check incidence of illicit financial flows before, during and after the general elections.
He said: “Additionally, we stepped up surveillance of financial system, to track suspicious cash movement which led to some arrests. These measures, we believe, helped to reduce the amount of cash available to politicians for vote buying.
“But the intervention that was most visible to politician actors and the electorates was the unprecedented step to physically police all the polling stations and collation centres to deter prospective vote buyers and sellers."
He said the officers made some arrests and seized money running into several millions of naira.
He said: “While prosecution of a number of offenders are currently ongoing, we have secured the conviction of a local government councillor in Gombe state for vote buying and also finalizing arrangement to file charges against more offenders and those arrested for vote buying and others with large sums of money which purpose they could not explain.
“But beyond the arrests, the presence of EFCC operatives at polling stations and collation centres was a major deterrence to vote buyers. We believe that the fear of possible arrest by the commission dissuaded many who would have turned such voting centres into trading posts for votes.”
Legit.ng earlier reported that prior to the elections, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said it had discovered new vote-buying methods to be used by some politicians.
The disclosure was made by the INEC national commissioner, Festus Okoye, at an interactive session with traditional rulers in Osun state on Monday, January 14.
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