#NigeriaDecides: Vote-buying: Buhari, Malami, Ortom snub INEC warning, violate ballot secrecy

President Muhammadu Buhari and the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami, on Saturday, ignored warnings by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) concerning display of thumb printed ballots.

The electoral umpire prohibits use of mobile phones and other photographic devices at voting cubicles to forestall the menace of vote-buying that has blighted Nigeria’s elections.

A few hours after INEC’s National Commissioner in charge of voter education and publicity, Festus Okoye, cautioned that, “No one will be allowed to take his or her phone to the voting cubicle,” Messrs Buhari and Malami were seen displaying ballot after casting their votes for the APC.

Mr Okoye, who said the law prohibits display of ballots by voters, added that, “officials of the ICPC, EFCC and security agencies will be on hand to monitor and ensure that the law in that respect is not violated.”

But Garba Shehu, Mr Buhari’s spokesperson, described the President’s conduct as a “rare show of loyalty,” by displaying “his ballot paper, with thumb print for All Progressives Congress’ (APC) Presidential Candidate, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu” on Saturday in Daura, Katsina State.

The president who voted at Ward A, Sarkin Yara Polling Unit, 003, was quoted to have reiterated his support for Mr Tinubu.

Like Mr Buhari, Mr Malami was seen displaying ballot papers showing how he voted for various candidates of the APC at his Shiryar Fada, Garkar Na Gambo, polling unit of Nasarawa 1 Ward in Birnin-Kebbi on Saturday.

Umar Gwandu, the minister’s spokesperson quoted Mr Malami as describing the election as “peacefully and in line with the dictates and guidelines put in place by INEC and in conformity with the provisions of the Electoral Acts…and international best practices associated with the election.”

Similarly, Benue State governor, Samuel Ortom, was seen at his polling unit at Guma local government, showing his ballot in favour of the Labour Party presidential candidate, Peter Obi.

Last week, Mr Ortom openly declared his support for Mr Obi’s presidential bid in Makurdi, the state capital, snubbing the can PeoplesDemocratic Party (PDP)’s presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar.

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