Speaker of the house of representatives, Yakubu Dogara, has slammed the Federal government over what he describes as inducement of voters ahead of the 2019 general elections.
Dogara was referring to the TraderMoni scheme by the Federal government which provides N10,000 loans to petty traders.
The scheme has been in the limelight ever since Vice-President, Yemi Osinbajo, has been going round the country and launching the scheme in various parts.
Dogara, however, while speaking at public hearing on vote-buying organised by senate and house of representatives committees on electoral and political party matters, said the trend was worrisome.
He said no matter how noble the scheme may be, it is in contravention of section 124 of the electoral act.
“It is instructive to note that the electoral act anticipated and captured most forms of electoral fraud including inducement and vote buying. I hope we will have the courage at this event to address the distribution of cash to the public very close to general elections by public officials,” he said
“I am afraid that such endeavors no matter how noble the intentions behind them may fall within the all encompassing provisions of S. 124 (1)(a); (b); (c); and S.(124)(2)(4)(5) and S. 130 of the electoral act.
“Although penalties are not stringent, there is also lack of political will to implement the laws as it is even if it were to offer feeble deterrence to violators. Arrest are hardly made and even where arrests are made, prosecutions are unheard of.
“A more worrisome dimension to vote buying is the alleged use of the officials of the electoral umpire, INEC, and officers of security agencies to induce, or intimidate and coerce voters to vote for particular candidates.
“Such absurdities have been widely reported in the media and confirmed by some local and international observers in respect of the recently concluded governorship elections in Osun state. As expected, all lovers of democracy worldwide rose to condemn these despicable incidents.
“Condemnation is not enough, it will amount to hypocrisy, if we don’t take the bull by the horn by taking concrete steps to eliminate these evils that make mockery of our hard worn democracy.”