Renowed human right lawyer, Mr Femi Falana (SAN) yesterday asked the Independent NationalElectoralCommission (INEC) to prosecute any politician arrested in connection with vote-buying and voteselling during elections. The Senior Advocate of Nigeria decried the allegations of vote-buying and selling during the June 18 Ekiti State governorship election won by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
He gave the task in his address, entitled: ‘The Mass Media as the Fulcrum of Democracy: A Celebration of BCOS Television at Forty’ he delivered at the Gala/Award Daymarkingthegrandfinale of the 40th anniversary of the Broadcasting Corporation of Oyo State Television (BCOSTV), at the University of Ibadan.
The human rights lawyer, who was represented by Dr.Tayo Omitola of the university, said media organisations have critical roles to play in checking electoral crime by exposing the perpetratorsandalsocollaborating for the prosecution of offenders. Hesaid:”Themedianeeds to assist in fighting against the prevalent electoral crime of vote-buying under the ‘vote and get paid’ culture as was witnessed in the Ekiti State governorship election. “The evidence of votebuying in Ekiti State is overwhelming. Somebuyerswere arrested by law enforcement agencies.
These criminal elementsandtheircohortsrecklesslybreachedtheprovisions of theElectoralActonbribery and corruption of the democratic system. “Shortly before the presidentialprimaries, thePeoples Democratic Party (PDP) and All Progressives Congress (APC) had bribed delegates with millions of dollars in utter defiance of the provisions of the Electoral Act 2022. Apart from exposing some of the criminally-minded politicians, the media should mount pressure on the INEC to prosecute them in line with Section 145 of the Electoral Act. The ruling class must be allowedto practicedemocracy with plutocracy.”
Falana added: “The politicians who wish to govern Nigeria at all levels must be challenged to address the crises of infrastructural decay, insecurity, poverty, unemployment, corruption, impunity and abuse of human rights. The journeytowards a just society may be long and torturous, but collectively, we can get there andbuildthe countryon afoundationof socialjustice.”