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Electoral Corruption Is The Worst Form Of Corruption – Ibrahim Magu

Electoral Corruption Is The Worst Form Of Corruption – Ibrahim Magu

The acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission,
EFCC, Ibrahim Magu has described electoral corruption as the worst form
of corruption as it undermines the will of the people and invests power
in illegitimate hands.

According to Magu, a government that pays its way into power is
hardly expected to be accountable; its priority upon assumption of
office would be how to recoup its investment. That is the open sesame to
corruption in public life, a phenomenon that has held us down as a
nation.

Magu who spoke through the Secretary of the Commission, Ola Olukoyede
at the National Policy Dialogue on Eradicating Electoral Corruption
(Vote-Buying) at the Anti-Corruption Academy of Nigeria on Tuesday,
April 16, 2019, described the timing of the dialogue as apt. He said the
dialogue was critical to “our collective aspiration to clean up the
institutions and process of election management for the good governance
of our nation”.

He said: “It was in appreciation of the damage, which the incidence
of vote buying does to the integrity of our electoral processes that we
resolved to play a more active role in stemming the practice in the just
concluded general election. The EFCC’s intervention was moderated by
our understanding of the pattern of vote buying in the elections that
were held in two states, Ekiti and Osun states, in 2018.

“To stem the ugly practice, the Commission decided to employ a
combination of preventive and enforcement strategies. Before the
political actors became aware that the commission had become unusually
interested in the electoral processes, the EFFC held sensitization
meetings with critical stakeholders in the financial sector, impressing
on them the need not to lend their institutions to be used as vehicles
to subvert the will of the people. Some of the stakeholders included
bankers and Bureau De Change Operators.

“Our engagement with them was informed by our knowledge of the roles
which some of them played during the 2015 general election, helping
politicians to move huge sums of money which were intended to be used to
compromise election officials and other actors in the electoral
process”.

He further explained that the Commission had to engage with law
enforcement agencies with anti-money laundering mandate in neighbouring
countries to check incidence of illicit financial flows before, during
and after the general elections.

He said: “Additionally, we stepped up surveillance of financial
system, to track suspicious cash movement which led to some arrests.
These measures, we believe, helped to reduce the amount of cash
available to politicians for vote buying.

“But the intervention that was most visible to politician actors and
the electorates was the unprecedented step to physically police all the
polling stations and collation centres to deter prospective vote buyers
and sellers. From Birnin-Kebbi to Ilorin, from Sokoto to Awka, from Kano
to Abeokuta, from Lafia to Port Harcourt, officers of the Commission
were massively deployed across the country to polling units and
collation centres to disrupt vote buying and arrest offenders. Some of
the officers were kitted in customized EFCC jackets while many wore
plain clothes.”

He said the officers made some arrests and seized money running into several millions of Naira.

He said: “While prosecution of a number of offenders are currently
ongoing, we have secured the conviction of a local government councillor
in Gombe State for vote buying and also finalizing arrangement to file
charges against more offenders and those arrested for vote buying and
others with large sums of money which purpose they could not explain.

“But beyond the arrests, the presence of EFCC operatives at polling
stations and collation centres was a major deterrence to vote buyers. We
believe that the fear of possible arrest by the commission dissuaded
many who would have turned such voting centres into trading posts for
votes.”

The EFCC acting chairman said the EFCC’s intervention was driven by
passion to do something to engender public confidence in our electoral
process, drawing from our experience of financial infractions in
previous elections. It was not the product of any structured blueprint
or policy. This is why I welcome this initiative by the ICPC.

He further said: “No doubt, there is a lot that the law enforcement
community in Nigeria can benefit from such a blueprint, which should
also clearly spell out rules of engagement agencies in the electoral
process. Such blueprint when formulated will, hopefully address some of
the criticisms against the participation of security and law enforcement
organisations in the electoral process.”

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