The red chamber of the National Assembly on Monday opened a public hearing on vote-buying and improving electoral processes in Nigeria.

The development was made public by the twitter account of the Nigerian Senate, @NGRSenate.

Senate President Bukola Saraki welcomed the National Assembly Joint Committee on INEC to the one-day event, even as the Chairman, Senate Committee on INEC, Senator Suleiman Nazif, led the opening prayer and welcomed the Bukola Saraki, House Speaker Yakub Dogara, senators and honourable members.

Nazif, in his welcome address, said the National Assembly amended the Act, noting, “Any person who processes fake voters card or violates the rules and regulation is liable to five-year imprisonment.”

“It is not only the responsibility of the legislators, but the Executive, Police, Armed Forces and other agencies are to ensure credible elections,” Nazif said.

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In his welcome address, Dogara said, “I am delighted to address you on this public hearing. This is one of the important issues of the moment that needs to be addressed before the 2019 general elections.”

“For election to be qualified under a democratic government, it must be free, fair and credible.

“The recent phenomenal and direct buying of votes is very disheartening. As citizens, we must not surrender to this criminality.

“Vote-buying and other criminal electoral process have left our citizen in disaster because they are ruled by fear, rather than challenging them.

“The purpose of this public hearing is to enable all of us to interrogate the issue and proffer solutions in order to ensure that every vote counts.

“I call on all Nigerians to rise and condemn all practices of vote-buying, as it is the worst form of corruption and should be treated as such,” Dogara said.

Saraki noted that the purpose of the public hearing was to “put heads together” over an issue that is pivotal to the successful conduct of the 2019 General Elections.

He said, “The period we are in now puts Nigeria in a delicate situation where Africa and the entire world are looking forward to what happens in our coming elections.

“This is understandable, when you consider that our President is the Chairman of ECOWAS.

“Moreover, the Chairman of our INEC is the head of Electoral Commissions in West Africa. With these regional leadership roles, it is clear that we cannot afford to conduct an election that will not be seen as credible, peaceful, free and fair.”

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