By; PATRICK TITUS, Uyo
Ahead the general elections, the Akwa Ibom State Ethical and Attitudinal Reorientation Commission (EARCOM),
has warned politicians and voters to desist from vote-buying and other electoral offences.
Citing the electoral law, the Commission tasked the people to avoid committing electoral offenses to avoid the wrath of the law which could include serving jail terms.
Speaking during a session with newsmen after a meeting with Board members of the Commission, the Executive Chairman of EARCOM, Dr Dorothy Thompson, urged voters to cast their votes according to their conscience and not fall for bribes from politicians.
She also said for votes to be valid and counted, it must be done rightly, adding that voters should cast their votes according to the guidelines of the Independent National Electoral Commission by thumb printing on the plain box beside their preferred Party logo to avoid voided votes.
Dr Thompson who hailed the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, for introducing the BVAS, and electronic transmission of results, advised that counting should be effectively monitored at the polling units.
The EARCOM boss announced that the Commission was due to commence a mass sensitisation on the expectations from the masses before the election commences in February and will work to ensure that citizens are aware of their roles to the Nation especially during electioneering period.
She said the Commission will educate the people on the need to vote right and be thus guided to come out to vote, ensure they vote for their candidates, and that they monitor their vote within the ambit of the new electoral guideline.
Dr Dorothy stressed that the commitment of the Commission at ensuring that the citizens are aware of their rights, duties and the roles expected of them in excercise of their civic duties as socially responsible citizens.
EARCOM, Dr Thompson added will commence a statewide Campaign of mobilising to eschew apathy, go get their PVCS and ensure they vote. She however assured the voters that as much as they are ready to do what is expected of them, their security is guaranteed even as she lauded the security agencies for performing creditably in maintaining peace and stability since electioneering processes kick-started.
While releasing voter education messages through fliers and bill boards, Dr Thompson listed conduct expected of eligible voters on the day of election to include, You can’t wear an emblem of a party; bearing weapons, acting violently or harassing other voters or displaying the posters of candidates among others.
She explained that all forms of electoral malpractices including thuggery, harassment of voters, rigging, ballot box stuffing or snatching, selling of voter cards, double voting, campaign at polling units and buying of votes will not be tolerated.
She therefore, enjoined all eligible voters, and particularly, youths, to secure their future by desisting from becoming tools of destruction in the hands of politicians and ensure they remain law abiding as they perform their civic responsibilities.