The Resident Electoral Commissioner in Akwa Ibom State, Mr Mike Iginni, said on Tuesday the political elite were the major problem of the country.
According to him, while the Independent National Electoral Commission has been devising means to ensure the fairness and credibility of elections in the country, the political elite are busy “mounting roadblocks” that will ensure the elections are not free and fair.
Iginni said INEC was in possession of reports showing that politicians in some parts of the country were already collecting account numbers of voters and making part payment for the purchase of votes.
He said the politicians resorted to the approach in response to the move by INEC to block vote-buying.
Iginni spoke during the 15th Gani Fawehinmi Annual Lecture held at Airport Hotel, Ikeja, Lagos.
The lecture, with the theme, ‘Securing the independence of INEC as panacea for free, fair and credible elections in Nigeria,’ was organised by the Nigerian Bar Association, Ikeja branch.
The main lecture was delivered by Prof. Akin Oyebode under the chairmanship of Justice Habeeb Abiru of the Court of Appeal.
Among the discussants were Iginni; human rights lawyer, Mr Femi Falana (SAN); Mr Dele Adesina (SAN); and a former NBA President, Mr Augustine Alegeh (SAN).
In his contribution, Iginni decried the judgment of the Supreme Court invalidating the use of card reader, saying the apex court failed to realise that it was introduced to curb election-rigging.
He declared that despite the refusal of President Muhammadu Buhari to assent to the amended Electoral Act, which provided for the use of card reader, this year’s general elections would be conducted using the card reader, which, he noted, INEC had been using since 2015.
Iginni said, “As I speak to you, we have report from certain part of the country showing clearly that politicians are collecting telephone numbers and bank accounts of the electorate and are already making part payments ahead of the elections. What are they responding to? They are responding to the card reader.”
He, however, said it would be no business as usual, urging the electorate to be vigilant.
Iginni also absolved INEC of blame in last year’s Osun State governorship rerun where thugs prevented voters from getting to the polling units.