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CSO tasks stakeholders on credible 2019 elections in Ebonyi

A Civil Society Organisation (CSO), the Hope Givers Initiative (HGI), has urged relevant stakeholders in the political process to desist from acts that can jeopardise the credibility of the 2019 general elections in Ebonyi State.

The group gave the advice on Friday in Abakaliki during a one-day stakeholders’ interactive session it organised on vote buying and vote selling, held at the state headquarters of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

Executive Director of HGI, Mrs. Onyeka Udegbunam, in an address, deplored the ugly effects of vote buying and vote selling in the electoral process.

Udegbunam said that the interactive session was aimed at finding solutions to the menace.

She noted that the brain-storming session would assist various stakeholders in the electoral and political projects to identify strategies to address the problem of vote trading and other election malpractices in Ebonyi State.

Udegbunam alleged that politicians and their agents, instead of engaging the electorate meaningfully with a view to winning their votes during elections, were busy strategising on how to buy the votes by inducing the voters.

She urged the electorate to say no to politicians that would demand for their votes in exchange for money or material gifts.

Udegbunam appealed to voters to elect leaders that would offer credible governance in 2019.

She charged participants, especially members of the CSOs, town union leaders and traditional rulers, to expose politicians who indulged in vote buying before or during the elections.

Udegbunam further tasked security agencies to arrest and prosecute anyone found engaging in the illegal activity of vote buying and vote selling.

She cautioned political parties and their candidates against indulging in the nefarious activities.

“Vote buying and vote selling are evil and undermine credible elections and lead to the emergence of unpopular, non-credible and selfish leaders.

“We must stand up against the monster of vote selling and vote buying currently threatening our democracy and collectively fight to defeat it, ‘’ Udegbunam said.

Prof. Godswill Obioma, INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Ebonyi, in a keynote address, decried vote selling and vote buying.

He said that INEC had put in place technologies that would prevent politicians from openly rigging elections.

Obioma added that INEC had made preparations well in advance to ensure successful, transparent and peaceful elections in Ebonyi.

He charged politicians to go and canvass for votes instead of concentrating their energies and money in buying votes and conscience of the voters.’

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The electoral commissioner commended the group for organising the interactive session.

Obioma urged participants to deploy energies toward strengthening the political and electoral processes by ensuring that actions that could inhibit free, fair and credible elections were tackled.

“Soon the electioneering campaigns will start. I will like to charge the politicians to go and campaign for votes and not to engage in buying of votes and conscience of the people.

“We will monitor the campaigns of political parties to ensure that their campaigns are issue-based, devoid of hate speeches and in compliance with the electoral guidelines on political party campaigns.

“As stakeholders, you have a role in sensitising and educating the people on the dangers of selling their votes, ‘’ he said.

The session was attended by leaders of registered political parties, religious leaders, traditional rulers, INEC, security agencies, CSOs and members of the press among others. (NAN)