The African Youth Assembly for Peace (AYAP) has called for stiffer penalty for anyone caught engaging in vote buying and selling before, during and after the 2023 general elections.
Abdul-Aziz Yusuf, the Head of Communications for AYAP, made the call while speaking in an interview on Thursday in Abuja.
Mr Yusuf said it was important to sanitise the country’s electoral system to be devoid of malpractices, adding that politicians must be reminded on the dangers of such act to Nigeria’s democracy.
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He explained that the newly amended Electoral Act 2022, particularly sections 22, 121 and 122, criminalised vote-buying in whatever guise and the appropriate punishment therein.
“Section 121 (2) stipulates that a voter commits an offence of bribery where, before, or during an election, directly or indirectly, by himself or herself, or by any other person, on his or her behalf.
He added that the voter “receives, agrees, or contracts for any money, gift, loan, or valuable consideration, office, place of employment, for his or herself, or any other person, for voting or agreeing to vote, or for refraining or agreeing to refrain from voting at any such election.”
He, therefore, cautioned politicians not to do anything that will undermine free and fair election in the country.
“Our politicians must understand that nothing can be more heart-warming than elections that reflect the true choice of the masses.
“Politicians must allow the electorate to decide who governs them, without recourse to inducement and assure the integrity of elections where a transparent, free, fair, and credible election is guaranteed,” he added.
Mr Yusuf also called on the Independent National Electoral Commission to urgently ensure the prosecution of those arrested while aiding and abetting electoral fraud, to serve as a deterrent to others.