Its agency – the Independent Corrupt Practices and the Related Offences Commission (ICPC) looked set to invoke its powers to prosecute offenders. According to the commission, the prosecution of offenders falls within its powers, though such powers have not been exercised before now. ICPC Acting Chairman Musa Usman said anyone caught buying or selling votes during the 2019 general elections would be prosecuted by the commission. He spoke at the weekend in Abuja during the Special Anti-Corruption Situation Room session on over-monetisation of electoral process and vote buying, organised by the Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA) resource Centre and partners. Usman, who was represented by the commission’s Deputy Commissioner, Ebenezer Shogunle, said: “Vote buying is not a new development in Nigeria, but it has now assumed a worrisome dimension, which calls for concerted efforts from all stakeholders. “Vote buying as captured by the law constitutes an offence, though listed as voter inducement, but that particular law seeks to penalise voter, who sells his vote and not the person who actually does the buying. “For us, that is one issue that should be looked into because as a commission, we believed it takes two to tango. “Another provision of the law talked about vote buyer but used in a very loose manner, which makes it difficult to be specific on vote buying. “The challenge here is that it becomes difficult for those charged with the responsibility of investigating and prosecuting these offences to know where or what to do. “The Electoral Act specifically mentioned that INEC has the responsibility of prosecuting offenders, we know that the ICPC Act, gives the commission under Section 6 (1) powers to investigate and prosecute offences under the law and any other law which prohibits bribery and corruption. “So, since the issue of vote buying is under bribery and corruption, we belief very strongly that it gives the commission the mandate to intervene. “What has happened over the years is that, everybody thinks somebody is doing the job that everybody ought to be doing but at the end of the day, you find out that nobody is doing that job at all because everybody imagined somebody is doing it.” Usman said the commission has decided to come outside of its closet and has reached out to INEC and offered to support it in investigating and prosecuting some of these cases. HEDA Director Olanrewju Suraj said over-monetisation of the electoral process is eroding the outcome of election and the capacity of emerging leaders to deliver on election promises. He said: “For us at HEDA and partners, it is to mobilise active stakeholders in the electoral process of reorientation of players in the election, towards issue-based campaigns such that the electoral process would be focused on outcomes and not just about cash that would be given out on election day.”]]>

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