2023: Why INEC Should Prosecute Perpetrators Of Vote-Buying – Falana

As the 2023 general elections draw near, a legal luminary, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), has tasked the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to prosecute criminally-minded politicians, especially those involved in vote-buying and vote-selling in order to make electoral process more credible in Nigeria.

He gave the task in his address, entitled: ‘The Mass Media as the Fulcrum of Democracy: A Celebration of BCOS Television at Forty’, which he delivered at the gala/award day, marking the grand finale of the 40th anniversary of the Broadcasting Corporation of Oyo State Television, held at International Conference Centre, University of Ibadan, on Thursday, during which the Executive Chairman of the corporation, Prince Dotun Oyelade, was the chief host.

Falana, a Lagos-based human rights lawyer, who was represented by Dr. (Mrs.) Tayo Omitola from the University of Ibadan, stated that media organisations have critical roles to play towards stemming the tide of electoral crimes and vote-buying, by exposing the perpetrators and also collaborate for the prosecution of offenders.

According to him, the media “needs to assist in fighting against the prevalent electoral crime of vote buying under the ‘vote and get paid’ culture as was witnessed in the June 18, 2022 Ekiti State governorship elections. The evidence of vote buying in Ekiti State is overwhelming. Some of buyers were arrested by the law enforcement agencies. These criminal elements and their cohorts recklessly breached the provisions of the Electoral Act on bribery and corruption of the democratic system.”

Apparently referring to the presidential primaries held by both the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressive Congress (APC), Falana argued: “Shortly, before then, the Peoples Democratic Party and the All Progressive Congress 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 Independent National Electoral Commission to prosecute them in line with Section 145 of the Electoral Act. The ruling class must be allowed to practice democracy with plutocracy.

“Furthermore, we must collectively stop electoral fraud such as the on-going attempts to impose some lawless individuals, who did not participate in party primaries, as party candidates. In discharging its constitutional obligation to the people the media should be fully involved in campaigning against the implementation of neoliberal economic policies by the governments at the instance of imperialism.

“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 journey towards a just society may be long and torturous, but collectively, we can get there and build the country on a foundation of social justice.”

The Executive Chairman of BCOSTV, Prince Dotun Oyelade, who thanked Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State for his quintessential support for the corporation, noted that fire gutted the BCOS Library 20 years ago, and “we find this celebration anniversary an opportune time to establish what we the ‘BCOS Library Foundation, to which you are all welcome to participate.”

He added that within the past 40 years BCOS TV “has moved on and in the past three years, the channel has witnessed defining developments, such that critical technical areas are being re-tooled and staff motivation is at an all-time high. We now possess one of the best television ambience and with our radio combined, we have been able to expand our reach such that on daily basis, those in the hinterland of Oyo State and beyond now participate in our programmes from their different cities and villages.”

Highlights of the occasion included presentation of 72 awards to different categories of achievers such as corporate, entertainment, posthumous, corporate partnership, service to humanity, meritorious and good ambassadors of BCOS , as well as Amotekun governors’ awards for the six governors in the South West. Apart from these, a total of 114 staff of the corporation were also given meritorious awards.

The recipients of the awards consisted of the former governor of the old Oyo State, the late Chief Bola Ige, whose administration, established the television station in March 1982. The posthumous award was presented by Prince Dotun Oyelade to the son of Bola Ige, Muyiwa Ige. A former governor of the state, Otunba Adebayo Alao-Akala, was also honoured in the posthumous award category.