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Preventing possible rigging plans

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WITH about three weeks to the 2019 general elections in the country, the independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has raised the alarm over fresh plans by politicians to rig the forthcoming elections.

The Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, claimed that the agency has credible intelligence report that politicians are planning to use food vendors around polling units with large voter population as collection points for cash for votes during elections.

Prof Yakubu, who disclosed this when he hosted the European Union (EU) Chief Observer, Ms Maria Arena and ECOWAS Observer mission in Abuja on Monday, also denied the claim that the electoral body has outsourced recruitment of election duty staff to partisan actors. The INEC boss explained that the bulk of the adhoc staff for election duty will be drawn from the poll of young Nigerian serving in the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) as well as students from tertiary institutions to make up for any shortfalls.

He also pointed out that collation and returning officers are drawn from senior academic staff of federal universities led by the vice chancellors.

Similarly, Yakubu revealed that the commission is currently battling some forces who are planning to compromise the electoral process through the recruitment and deployment of returning and collation officers across the country.

It is laudable that the electoral agency is aware of these clandestine moves by unscrupulous politicians to subvert the integrity of the 2019 polls. While commending the commission for disclosing these plans to rig the election, they  and security agencies, especially the police, are urged to wade in and stop the plots to compromise the elections.

The alarm raised by Yakubu must be taken seriously by the security agents. Therefore, INEC must ensure that the electoral process is improved in such a way that will guarantee the sanctity of the ballot. The unscrupulous politicians should be prevented by the security agents from using food vendors and other people to rig the poll, even out right vote buying.

However, the electoral commission cannot do this alone. It needs the co-operation of all citizens as well as all stakeholders, including politicians and their supporters. The civil society organization and other bodies should assist INEC to ensure that the election is not marred. It is also important that INEC must address quickly the disturbing issue of vote buying and vote selling in whatever form.

The vote buying culture witnessed in some governorship elections in some states recently should not be allowed in the forthcoming polls. Therefore we support any move by the electoral umpire to curb vote buying. It is also heartwarming that INEC has modified the administration of polling units so that it will be deficient for voters to expose their marked ballot papers during elections.

It is also believed that the introduction of partial ban on the use of mobile phones and other electronic devices by voters while in the voting cubicles can, to a large extent, curb vote buying. Since prominent Nigerians have raised the alarm over plan to rig the election by some privileged people and agencies,  the electoral umpire and the security agencies should do their best to ensure the sanctity of the ballot.

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