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Vote Buying: Police To Deploy X-squad, Intelligence Officers For 2023 Election

in a move to halt vote buying, the Nigeria Police Force said it will  deploy X-squad, intelligence officers and investigators during the 2023 general election.

The plan, according to the Force is  to ensure that politicians moving on election days with tonnes of physical cash for vote buying are apprehended and dealt with according to the provisions of the law.

Inspector General of Police (IGP) Usman Alkali Baba, gave the warning at a one-day stakeholders summit  convened by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), to address the influence of money in the 2023 general elections, held in Abuja on Monday.

Represented by Assistant Inspector General (AIG), Bala Ciroma, the IGP said: “Concerted efforts are being made by the Nigeria police as the lead agency in electoral security management to ensure that the use of money is not allowed to influence the 2023 general elections or at least ensure that this menace is brought to the barest minimum.

“We will achieve this in synergy with sister security agencies, anti-graft and intelligence agencies and other stakeholders.

“The result of this synergy has started yielding positive results as a lot of arrests have been made especially of persons buying voter registration cards as a prelude to rigging the elections.

“Some political thugs have also been arrested and are being prosecuted in courts of competent jurisdiction. We will also ensure that the police X-squad, intelligence officers and investigators are moved to the field to ensure that politicians moving on election days with tonnes of physical cash for vote buying are apprehended and dealt with according to the provisions of the law.

“We have also deployed intelligence officers who will get embedded in the crowd during political rallies to identify with precision persons encouraging or perpetrating violence.

“Let me state again emphatically that the use of the money during the 2023 elections is unacceptable and we will do all we can within the confines of the law to bring offending persons to book.

“Therefore, all hands are on deck and all the relevant security agencies are in synergy on this. We intend to provide a conducive atmosphere for the conduct of the 2023 elections.

“We have seen in recent times how some politicians move about with physical cash to buy votes, especially on elections day. The same approach has also been used in kind, through the purchase of items such as rice, noodles, clothes, sugar, salt etc, 31 candidates for distribution to the electorate in order to entice them to vote against their conscience.

“The use of money to influence the political process has so far manifested in the current litigations within members of some political parties. And in some cases, intra-party violence.

“Some politicians often use money to sponsor restive youths who are readily available and willing to be mobilised as political thugs and to wreak mayhem on opponents and voters.

“We have seen this in the current political campaigns and this violence could spread to post-election if the use of money is not checked. We cannot rule out attempts to entice the political umpires/security agents with money to influence the outcome of elections.

“Some politicians spend huge sums of money to get elected to office. Thus, their priority in the office having been elected is to recoup the money they spent during the election.

“The consequence of this is that those elected provide poor governance and deny the public the benefit of good governance, as they most likely are not the best When elections are influenced by money, the credibility of process is questioned. This leads to rancour and the possibility of violence after the elections.”

INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, noted that voters’ inducement peaceful elections as desperate politicians instigate violence by financing thuggery.

He said: “We are gathered here today to address a matter of serious concern to most Nigerians. The negative role of money in elections goes to the very heart of our democracy. It destroys the very basis of democratic elections which is that citizens should freely choose those who exercise power on their behalf. It renders the emergence of the right candidates for positions extremely difficult, undermines fair electoral adjudication, and destroys the professional and independent conduct of INEC officials and other public agencies involved in elections. Even more worrisome is the high prospect that criminal money may find its way into our elections through money laundering.

“Above all, the pernicious use of money tremendously increases the likelihood of election violence due to a “win at all costs” mentality among contestants who would have invested a fortune in election. Surely, election is not a business venture for profit. Instead, it is an application to serve the people with the understanding that they may prefer someone else on one occasion. But then, there would be an opportunity to reapply after four years. Citizens’ choices must never be subverted by the negative use of money.”

The INEC Chairman listed proactive measures taken by his Commission to mitigate vote buying to include, “the slight reconfiguration of our Polling Units to bring the ballot boxes closer to the voting cubicles to discourage the exposure of the marked ballot papers by voters to vote buyers. We also banned the use of smartphones and photographic devices by voters in the voting cubicles. Yet, these measures have recorded limited success.”

In his response, Director General of the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU),  Modibbo Tukur, commended the Central Bank of Nigeria, (CBN) for its new policy as he noted that the apex bank initiative has helped to remove money from the electoral process and helping with security.

“We congratulate the CBN and security agencies. We know candidates who have capacity to spend money, we will monitor and flag them. We don’t arrest but we will report them.

“We know candidates who have capacity to spend money, we will monitor and flag them. We don’t arrest but we will report them”, he said.

Chairman of the Economic Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Abdulrasheed Bawa, who was represented by his Chief of Staff, Hajia Hadiza Gamawa, cautioned Nigerians not to be swayed by candidates with deep pockets but lacking in integrity.

“Votes must be cast on the depth of strength of character, not depth of pocket. We must change the narrative of poor recruitment process”, he said.

Bawa also advised political parties and their candidates to be willing to disclose source of their campaign fund.

On his part, Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Professor Bolaji Awasanoye, described vote-buying as another form of coup d’etat.

“Procured mandate is equal to a coup d’etat, because the process has been flawed. That’s a manipulation of the outcome by financial inducement. Vote buying is beyond a matter of perception, it is real and blatant.

“A government that comes to offices through vote buying is emboldened to indulge in impunity because he is not accountable to the people. Corruption will thrive because his mandate is procured”, he said.

National Chairman of the Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC) and  presidential candidate of the Action Democratic Party (ADP),  Yusuf Yagbagi Sani, also maintained that the influence of money could frustrate free, fair election.

“If the use of money is allowed free reign, the elections can’t be free, fair and credible. If steps aren’t taken the 2023 general elections will be everything but free, fair and credible because of the influence of money. 

“The stakes are high because there are desperate politicians who will use money to influence and subvert the wishes of the electorate devoid of the corrosive influence of money, IPAC is convinced that INEC will deliver on free, fair, credible election”, he said.



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