NAS seeks electoral offenders Commission to curb voting buying
The National Association of Seadogs (Pyrates Confraternity) is seeking the quick passage of the law establishing the National Electoral Offenders Commission to tackle vote-buying and other electoral malpractices before the 2023 general election.
The NAS Capoon, Mr Abiola Owoaje in a statement entitled ‘Red Flags for Nigeria’s Democracy’ decried the incidence of vote-buying during the Ekiti governorship election.
While listing violent and heavily monetised primaries, and vote-buying as impediments to a true democratic system, he expressed sadness that political players are eager to undermine Nigeria’s democracy.
“The National Association of Seadogs (Pyrates Confraternity) is very disturbed by the deepening of these troubling trends surrounding Nigeria’s electoral process. We are particularly appalled by the blatant impunity characterised by bribe-for-vote during the Ekiti governorship election. It is shameful and despicable that after 23 years of uninterrupted civil rule, political parties and their candidates would be so deeply involved in the disreputable financial inducement of the electorate to procure votes.
“We believe that democracy can only thrive when the electorate is enabled and encouraged to choose its leaders and representatives in a transparent process free of coercion and inducement. No country can lay claim to abiding democratic precepts and values if her citizens cannot elect leaders or representatives in a free and fair manner.
The resort to bribe-for-votes by political parties before or during elections imprints an indelible question mark on the credibility of the electoral process, makes mockery of democracy, and undermines its very raison d’être,” he said.
While blaming those willing to buy votes and those eager to trade votes, Owoaje stated that the latter loses after selling votes lose the right to hold elected leaders accountable given rise to the major disconnect between the people and elected leaders after election.
He called for the prosecution of all those arrested in connection with vote-buying in Ekiti and urged INEC and security agencies to devise foolproof strategy to minimise access of party agents to the electorate during voting process.
The statement reads in part: “The National Assembly should speed up the process to pass into law the bill to establish the National Electoral Offences Commission and Tribunal before the 2023 general elections. The bill which had passed second reading in the House of Representatives had already been passed by the Senate in 2021. Just as recommended by the Justice Mohammed Uwais led Electoral Reform Committee in 2007, the Electoral Offences Commission would be saddled with the responsibility to investigate and prosecute electoral offenders effectively taking the burden off INEC. Speedy prosecution of electoral offenders would bolster and sanitise Nigeria’s wobbling electoral system.
The Federal Government and all relevant agencies must do everything possible to safeguard Nigeria’s electoral process; on no account must we allow anti-democratic forces to sabotage our democracy.