We monitor salt, rice sharing –INEC

The Independent National Electoral Commission does not monitor the sharing of salt, rice and other commodities given by political parties during campaigns, the Head, INEC’s Department of Voter Education and Publicity in Bayelsa State, Wilfred Ifogah, has said.

Ifogah was reacting to an allegation of inducement of voters by election monitoring group, YIAGA Africa, in at least one in every three of the 21 local government areas in Kogi State and in all the LGAs in Bayelsa.

The Executive Director, YIAGA Africa, Samson Itodo, had made the allegation in a statement.

He said, “INEC should come up with a robust mechanism and collaborate with both state and non-state actors to curb the menace of buying and selling of PVCs and other forms of voter inducement.

“Generally, voter inducement was reported in at least one in every three LGAs of the 21 LGAs in Kogi state, and in all the LGAs in Bayelsa states.”

But speaking in an interview with our correspondent, Ifogah wondered how voters could be induced when the election had not been conducted.

He said, “We still have some weeks to the election. I don’t know how YIAGA Africa came about that. Although they have their people on the field, they have not told us anything. People go out to campaign.

So whatever they do, I cannot really say.

“Even before the vote-buying syndrome, they used to give out commodities  such as salt, rice and other things during campaign. May be  that is what they are doing right now that YIAGA Africa is calling voter inducement.

“INEC does not track such things. YIAGA Africa is an independent group and so, whatever their findings are, we don’t know. The only thing I know INEC does is that whenever political parties are having their major rallies, they invite the commission to observe and see how they conduct themselves and take track of certain things they are doing. We track the finances of parties as well.”

The INEC spokesman said there was a department in INEC, Election and Political Party Monitoring, which tracked campaign funds.

“Since the campaigns started, INEC has been tracking them. The EPPM team goes round to check billboards and match them with what each party is spending on elections and, later, they will come out with their own report,” he added.

Also speaking, the HoD VEP in Kogi State, Ahmed Biambo, queried the allegation by YIAGA Africa.

Biambo said, “Voter inducement with money or what? That is one allegation I consider to be vague. So far, the campaign in Kogi is low-key.

He said, “I don’t know how they are inducing voters. It is only at the polling unit that you can see some forms of vote buying.”
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