The Northern Elders Forum (NEF), Wednesday, decried the increasing level of vote-buying ongoing in the northern parts of the country.
NEF warned that the move was a ploy to disenfranchise eligible voters for clandestine reasons.
This was contained in a statement by the director, publicity and advocacy of NEF, Dr Hakeem Baba-Ahmed.
Dr Baba-Ahmed stated that, “The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has confirmed what the public has been aware of in the last few weeks. This is the widespread and targeted buying of Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) in many parts of the North and a few other parts of Nigeria.
“Northern Elders Forum (NEF) had followed this worrying phenomenon, advising community leaders and major stakeholders on the dangers of disenfranchising large numbers of citizens. We have also undertaken our own investigations, which prompt this public warning.
“Thousands, or possibly even millions of Northern voters, particularly women, are being made to surrender their PVCs for a pittance, in most instances not more than N2000.
“In some instances, they are told their cards will be returned to them after they are processed for additional payments as poverty relief. No cards are returned.
“Our investigations suggest that this an aggressive and blatant voter suppression attempt to reduce the voting powers of the North.”
NEF urged voters not to succumb to such moves, stating that, “Irrespective of which party or candidate they support, Northerners must vote in the forthcoming elections, as this is the only way our region can reverse its current fortunes and circumstances.
“To sell your card now, or sell your vote in next year’s elections is to betray your responsibility to improving our circumstances and future. Every Northerner should know that our voting population and turnout during elections are the only powers we have left, but we can use them to affect who will lead us at the next elections.
“Voters from other parts of the country are jealously guarding their voting opportunities. Our relative poverty now is no excuse to surrender the opportunity to improve our future.
“NEF calls on INEC to intensify its public awareness campaign against this dangerous threat to rights of all voters to vote. It calls on all authorities to raise levels of vigilance and arrest this practice.
“NEF also calls on the federal and state governments to intensify the campaign against violent threats that could prevent millions of voters in the North, and many other citizens in other parts of the country from voting. INEC should sustain its efforts to conduct credible elections next year.”