Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega has questioned the term Bribe, saying that gifts distributed to the electorate during political campaigns should not be called bribe.
He did though said that distribution of gifts by political parties to elctorates had grey areas, these comes as minority parties have been crying that such practices where illegal.
Chief Press Secretary to the INEC Chairman, Mr. Kayode Idowu in a recent sit down with journalists said: “If they say people are giving gifts, how do we interpret that (as bribes)? What is INEC’s provision to act on that? They (the givers) may be telling a lie but if they say they are giving gifts for Ramadan, or if they say they are doing service support, what will INEC be able to do?
“It’s a grey area that is left simply for interpretation. If there is any law that is broken, then we will act on that. How can you tell that what they are doing has anything to do with electoral law?”.
Jega spokesman said that there is however a law that stops distribution of gifts in or around the vicinity of the polling unit on the electoral day.
“That is clearly an electoral offence by which INEC can have the police arrest such a person. But, outside that vicinity, if someone goes to another’s house to visit or to give him something, it is not an issue INEC can intervene on,” he said.
“We should also not underestimate voters, anyway. Voters are not stupid. Quite a number of voters know what they want. What the media should keep doing is to encourage them to vote from their conscience; vote on the basis of programmes, principles and policies, and not be bullied by any ties to gifts.”
The issue of gifts being distributed was raised up during the Ekiti state governorship election, where it was said that the APC and the PDP shared gifts to electorates to get their votes.