The police on Friday revealed how they intend to tackle the menace of vote-buying and vote-selling during the governorship election in Ekiti State.
In a bid to achieve this, a Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG), Mr Johnson Kokumo, explained that the police would rely majorly on information gathering.
“The buyer and the seller are always in mutual agreement toward what they intend to do,” he said during an interview on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily in Ado, the Ekiti State capital.
“We will rely heavily on information; we will rely heavily on intel. A seller of vote will not invite the police or make it known in public that he wants to sell his vote. The buyer will equally not make it known to the police that he wants to buy votes; so, it is always something that is done in total secrecy.”
In previous elections, political parties and politicians have been accused of inducing the electorate at polling units, thereby engaging in vote-buying and vote-selling which have been criminalised by the government.
The disturbing rate of such electoral malpractices has become worrisome for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) – the nation’s electoral umpire.
INEC, in collaboration with the security agencies and other stakeholders, has embarked on a series of campaigns to curb the trend.
Kokumo, who is leading over 17,000 police personnel and assets deployed for the election in Ekiti, assured residents that the force would do well to address their concerns in that regard.
“I want to assure the good people of Ekiti State that we have our men out there who are on surveillance, gathering information as regards this, and I want to urge members of the public that if you see something, try and say something.
“If you have information concerning those intending to buy votes and those intending to sell votes, reach out to us. We have emplaced adequate measures to check vote-buying, to check vote-selling, and we have the capacity to locate them wherever they are to effect their arrest, carry out our investigation, and process them through the judiciary; they have both committed an electoral offence for which they will be processed through the court.”
Away from vote-buying and vote-selling, the DIG said actions have been taken to ensure policemen remain neutral throughout the period of the election.
He listed such measures to include training of policemen and withdrawal of personnel attached to Very important Persons (VIPs) as security aides.
“Before now, we have had capacity building for our men, and part of the things we had actually instilled is neutrality in situations like this. So, no officer of the Nigeria Police should be out there for the election assignment and resort to being unnecessarily partial or trying to favour a particular political party against the other,” said Kokumo.
He added, “We’ll remain apolitical, we’ll remain neutral, and we’ll provide adequate security for men and (electoral) materials. We have withdrawn policemen attached to (politicians) in form of aides; to VIPs in order to have a seamless exercise.
“We do not want the situation where those attached to the VIPs are used on the field to cause unnecessary mayhems, to wreak havoc; so, we have withdrawn them. We have equally advised sister agencies to do the same. So, you are not going to find aides attached to VIPs following them for the exercise.”