The Independent National Electoral Commission on Thursday raised the alarm that some politicians in Oyo State were mounting pressure on the commission to sell unclaimed 914,529 permanent voter cards in its custody to them.
The commission said it was not giving in to such pressure aimed at rigging the forthcoming polls because “INEC is determined to ensure that people’s votes count in the free, fair and credible elections in 2019.”
Speaking on the theme, “Online journalism and Media integrity in Nigeria,” the Resident Electoral Commissioner, Mr. Agboke, declared that some politicians, whose identities he did not disclose, approached the commission to buy PVCs to rig the elections.
He stated, “As far as we are concerned, PVCs are not for sale.”
The REC assured residents of the state of smooth elections devoid of crisis in 2019, stressing that no worker of the commission would sell PVCs to any politician ahead of the 2019 elections.
Agboke said, “They are looking for PVCs to buy. They are looking for what is not available because they know that these things are not available. This is the security report at my disposal.
“Tell those who are looking for PVCs to buy that there is none to buy in Oyo State. I can assure you that no INEC employee will sell PVCs to any politician. I can assure you that the process will be free and fair in Oyo State.
“Those who are looking for PVCs to buy, I won’t give you their names. I don’t have their names.
“But that is the security report I got and the report did not specify the party and the individuals that are involved. They want us to give them PVCs but we can’t give it to them. They want to buy PVCs but there is none to sell in Oyo State.”
Agboke urged journalists in the state to cooperate with the commission in spreading accurate information to members of the public.
He said, “All of us are stakeholders. If you are in doubt, call INEC. More so, you are online journalists, let us ensure that we have our facts correct. For me in Oyo State, I have nothing to hide. We conducted the election in Eruwa and the people that won, won.”
He urged journalists to abide by the ethics of the profession at all times.
The South-West Bureau Chief of The Nation and an Associate Editor of the Nigerian Tribune newspapers, Mr Bisi Oladele, and Mr Wale Ojo-Lanre respectively, urged journalists to always abide by the rules and regulations guiding the profession in their day-to-day reportage.
They said online journalism had come to stay in Nigeria and admonished journalists to distinguish themselves from ordinary writers considering the fact that “almost everybody is a journalist with the advent of internet and smart phones.”
They agreed that one of the ways for the journalists “ to differentiate themselves from ordinary writers was for them to cross-check their facts, investigate their stories and be conscious of the existing laws of the land.”