INEC ban on use of phones at polling units not the solution to end Vote buying in Nigeria


The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), in a media briefing by the chariman, Mahmood Yakubu placed a ban on the use of phone at polling unit (election venues) the reason for the ban was attributed to buying and selling of votes as witnessed in the Ekiti state Gubernatorial election held on the 14th of July 2018, where he claimed that video footage of the act encouraged others to engage in the act. Analyzing the situation critically, the video footage only served as proof of the illicit and uncivil act, because when the issue made the headlines there was denial by the accused party APC but however due to the video footage and pictures, many people believed it others who were far from EKiti could only appreciate the situation better only after viewing the footages which were in circulation on phones and social media.
Thus a ban on the use of phones at polling unit is a foul play an attempt to jeopardize the journalistic work of the media, observers, the electorate and the general public, as the popular saying goes, seeing is believing and pictures don’t lie, videos can be staged in dramatic performance contest but certainly one cannot act a drama of buying and selling votes at polling units. Common sense should prevail that these videos are genuine legal evidence of the atrocities committed at various polling units, of course we know that many African Nations are still battling with the challenge of conducting credible, free and transparent elections, not influenced by money, bribery, inducement, pressure and of course the power of incumbency who are always in control of major resources in terms of personnel, money, security agencies and so on.
For the INEC chairman to come out and place a ban on the most trusted and easily verifiable means of identifying Electoral perpetrators, ballot box snatchers and those causing mayhem and violence on election grounds is a breach on the fundamental right of citizens and an attempt to undermine the work of journalists, members of the press and the citizens, one wonders whether he does not know that there exist freedom of the press, but this is Nigeria where anything can happen and the Federal Government as usual is mute over the matter, after all it is widely perceived that those who engaged in the act were from the ruling part who carried the day amidst cries by the leading opposition party (PDP) that some of their party chieftains were put under house arrest or prevented from exercising civic their duties on the day of the election, the case is at the tribunal right now but of course, we all know this case might drag on for months or years as it is the norm with many Electoral related cases taking to various tribunals in Nigeria.
This is coming at a time that the international community is hoping and expecting the democracy of African nations to grow and mature by first and foremost having free, fair and peaceful electoral processes so that Africans can confidently vote into power, candidates of their choice and not self-imposed leaders or people who refuse to cede power even when their tenures are due, this ban will definitely hamper the evidence of journalistic reporting and news, without pictorial, audio and video proof, the work of journalism would be limited to hear say, certainly this ban does not auger well for journalism, it does not auger well for democracy and certainly it cannot reduce buying and selling of votes. In Nigeria.