The Center For Liberty has said that the Edo and Ondo states governorship elections were marred with vote-buying.
The group in a statement by it’s Co-Convener, Ariyo-Dare Atoye, revealed that vote-buying now constituted more than 50 per cent of the election budget of some political parties.
It urged the National Assembly and Independent National Electoral Commission to fashion out a legally driven framework for standardising the process of voting on election day that will prevent vote-buying conversers from monitoring voters.
The statement reads, “Notwithstanding the latest outcome of the Ondo State governorship election and the recent successes recorded by the Independent National Electoral Commission, time has come for the entire nation to rise up to tackle the hydra-monster of vote-buying. Vote-buying has become a never-ending bottomless pit that presents a clear existential danger to the electoral processes and is capable of completely destroying good governance and make democracy less attractive and desirable.
“While it is instructive to commend INEC, the security agencies, election observers, the media and other stakeholders for stepping up to the plate in recent times, and working very hard in making the votes of the people to count, we, however, must never make the mistake of allowing this vote-buying crime to become an electoral normal.
“We at Center For Liberty observed during the 2020 Ondo and Edo Decides, that, there is no limit to what desperate politicians can use to induce voters, and sadly, our investigation has revealed that vote-buying now constitutes more than 50 percent of the election budget of some political parties. Vote-buying is definitely an unsustainable venture, but how soon we are able to tackle it the better.
“As a nation, we must do everything to fight the cancerous spread of vote-buying, and the onus is on the National Assembly to ensure that the ongoing amendment of the Electoral Act, can reasonably address the crime of vote buying and selling.
“Consequently, we wish to call on the National Assembly and INEC to immediately fashion out a legally driven framework for standardising the process of voting on election day by guaranteeing the secrecy of votes in a manner that will prevent vote-buying conversers from monitoring voters. In essence, protecting voters and securing the secrecy of votes can help to reduce or discourage the growing menace of vote-buying.
“All stakeholders must see the fight against vote buying as a collective responsibility.
“On the Ondo State governorship election, we believe that it met the minimum standard for a credible election as was the case in Edo State, except for the high incident of vote buying in the two elections. We urge any party not satisfied with the outcome to seek a legal redress.”