Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said it is collaborating with Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Matters Commission (ICPC) and Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to check vote-buying.
INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Rivers State, Johnson Alalibo Sinikiem, while describing vote-buying as a cankerworm that has eaten deep into the country’s system, said the electoral body had carried out sensitisation of the people, monitored and reported anyone involved in vote-buying during the elections.
He stated this, yesterday, in Port Harcourt during the opening of the 2023 Week of the Correspondents’ Chapel of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ).
The theme of the week is: “Media Vigilance Ahead of Peaceful 2023 Election in Rivers State.” Represented by the Head, Voter Education and Publicity, Mark Usulo, Sinikiem said that with the new Electoral Act, anyone caught with a permanent voter card (PVC) that does not belong to him or her, risks a jail term.
He said security agencies, especially Nigeria Police and Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), have been briefed to watch out for people in possession of PVCs not theirs.
The REC also tasked the media to ensure accurate reportage of INEC activities before, during and after general elections, assuring them that the electoral body would ensure free, fair, credible and violent-free election.
EARLIER, the Chapel expressed worry over increasing political violence in the state. The Chairman, Amaechi Okonkwo, said: “In the past few weeks, we all know what has been happening around politics and campaigns in Rivers State. Even before now, we are not unaware of information about violence or pockets of violence here and there relating to election and campaigns in Rivers State.
“Rewind to 2019 when we last held general elections here and you will understand the economic and social disruptions, the loss of lives and property and the nightmares of militarisation of the state, which are still very fresh in our hearts.
“This is the reason we insisted on joining the discussion to reinforce not just the discussion but demand for peaceful general elections in Rivers State.”
In his contribution, a veteran journalist, Dr. Jossy Nkwocha, called on the media and journalists to be patriotic in their reportage of elections.
Nkwocha, who is the Head, Corporate Communications, Indorama-Eleme Petrochemicals Limited, was the chairman of the event.
He said: “Be careful of fake news from various interest groups. Fake news is the biggest thing that threatens journalism and even the electoral process.
“Let us ensure we check sources of information before using such stories. Let’s maintain neutrality and give all political parties equal opportunities at all times.
“Let’s beware of materials that cause character assassination of political opponents. Let’s be careful with information that may trigger violence in the electoral process,” he said, among others.