Mahmood Yakubu, Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, on Friday said the commission is mulling the ban of smartphones and other sophisticated devices at polling units during the 2019 general elections.
Yakubu disclosed this at an Election Dialogue Series organised by a civil society organisation, YIAGA, in Abuja.
According to him, the smartphones are devices which helps fester the syndrome of vote-buying at polling units across the country and could be partly checkmated if phones are not brought to or are confiscated at election centres.
He also said the political parties might be deceived by some “smart” voters, who would use a single picture of a ballot paper captured by a person and attribute it as their evidence of voting for a particular candidate.
He said, ”The commission would try and ban the use of some devices that aid vote buying on election day such as mobile phones.
”It is all widespread that for those who have smart phones, they go into the voting cubicles with there smart phones, thumbprint the ballot paper, take a picture with the ballot paper, fold it and drop it into the box, and later show it to the person who asked them to vote to see evidence that they have voted for there candidate.
”But I also think that the political parties may be for a shocker because there are also smart guys in Nigeria that would snap and send to others through WhatsApp and one ballot paper may be claimed by hundreds of people.
”We are looking at that possibility to tell citizens that have smart phones not to come to polling units on election day with the smart phones.”
Yakubu also lamented the inability of INEC to prosecute electoral offenders as the commission has no powers to make any arrest.
”Unfortunately in the Electoral Act, INEC is required to prosecute electoral offenders which include vote buyers; but look at the situation. To successfully prosecute, you have to make arrests. We have no police to make arrests. To successfully prosecute after arrest you have to make investigations; we seem to have no capacity to investigate. How do we then successfully prosecute?”, he queried.
He, however, explained that INEC would continue to partner with the security agencies to arrest electoral offenders in other to ensure their successful conviction.
He also spoke on the need to monitor and detect electoral offences done before the day of the election, such as the large electronic transfer of cash, which he noted was also tantamount to vote-buying.