In a countdown to the 2023 general elections in Nigeria, the Coalition of United Political Parties, CUPP, has raised alarm over plans by the ruling party to influence the outcome of the exercise through digital vote buying, code-named Operation Wire Wire.
CUPP raised the alarm in the week, that the APC had concluded plans to transfer cash to voters via harvested bank accounts, a digital vote-buying method.
The opposition parties said the 2023 polls are in potential danger if the alleged moves by APC to unleash operation wire-wire (digital vote buying) were not nipped in the bud now, just as they said that over 20 APC states had harvested 10m bank accounts to transfer money to voters on election day.
Addressing journalists, in Abuja, the CUPP spokesperson, Ikenga Imo Ugochinyere, said the new plot of digital vote buying would see to the APC harvest names, account numbers, and Voters Identification Numbers, Bank Verification Numbers of citizens, arranged in tables for each polling unit on the understanding that money would be sent to each person by electronic means to purchase their votes.
Consequently, in a quick counter yesterday, APC Presidential Campaign Council, PCC, accused the CUPP and the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, of spreading wicked rumors to portray the APC standard bearer, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, in a bad light.
“If you believe this, you will believe anything. This is a mere rumor concocted by the PDP and surrogate CUPP to malign our candidate. We are working hard to win this election landslide,” said Bayo Onanuga, Director, Media, and Publicity, at APC PCC.
However, Ugochinyere, who noted that CUPP had intercepted the plan by the APC to carry out digital vote buying, claimed that information available to it showed that bank details of over 10 million voters had been harvested by agents of the ruling party nationwide, using different platforms.
He alleged that plot was hatched soon after the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, announced the Naira redesign policy.
Ugochinyere said: “This plot, which has now received the approval at the highest level of the APC and its Presidential Campaign Council, was designed in Imo State and exported to 21 other states of the federation.
”It requires the party’s agents to harvest names, account numbers, Voters Identification Numbers, and Bank Verification Numbers of citizens and arranged in tables for each polling unit on the understanding that money will be sent to each person by electronic means to purchase their votes.
“In Imo and Ebonyi states, this plot is being executed under the platform of Support Group Coordination, South-East, while in other parts of the South-East, like in Abia, Enugu, and Anambra, it is being executed as APC Empowerment Form.
”In Katsina State and other parts of the North-West, the plot is being executed under the Citizens Grassroots Farmers Association; in Ekiti State, they are operating under the Ekiti Development Front, EDF.
”In the North-Central, Operation Wire-Wire is being executed under the North-Central Women for Tinubu. In Cross River State, the details are harvested under the Forum of Tinubu Support Groups. In the rest of the country, the APC is harvesting details using the Vote Canvassing Form.”
”Consequently, the CUPP has called on banks and security agencies to work together by identifying the illegal transactions in the banks and reporting the same to the security agencies for immediate prosecution.
According to Vanguard, the CUPP released many leaked documents that show the harvested names and bank accounts for the digital vote buying in those states.
“Further intelligence we have has intercepted the ruling party’s desperation to emerge victorious by any means necessary, including digital vote buying, which is code-named Operation Wire-Wire. This operation, the APC designed immediately after the announcement by the CBN on redesigning the Naira.
”This plot has now received approval at the highest level of the APC, and its campaign councils. It was also designed in Imo State and exported to 21 other states of the federation, it requires the party harvest names, account numbers, and Voters Identification Numbers, Bank Verification Numbers of citizens and arranged in tables for each polling on the understanding that money will be sent to each person by electronic means to purchase their votes.
”This is a huge threat to the credibility and outcome of the 2023 general election, and it is against the provisions of the Electoral Act.
“Let us again start with what happened in Imo State in Oru East, and Oru West axis, especially Awomama, where the following account numbers, voters’ details, and other personal details have been harvested into the payment schedule and waiting for payment instructions.
“Nigerians will be hurt if this election can be sold and bought like crayfish in the ordinary market.
We call on the staff of banks to give us information anytime they see such questionable transactions of vote buying in their banks.
”We also call on the EFCC to be on the lookout for such. Any political party, which desires to send money to agents should be compelled to send the bank an acknowledged copy of the official list of agents submitted to INEC.
”This will help forestall any unreasonable claims that they are paying agents. It must also be noted that there is only one agent per polling unit for a political party; hence any claim that the data being harvested is those of party agents is dead on arrival.
“Again we call on the Police, the DSS, and the EFCC to immediately swing into action and arrest the harvesters of these bank details. If security agencies claim they do not know who harvested them, we now tell them to apprehend the persons whose identities are contained in these documents and, from there, get the identities of who harvested them.”
Passing a vote of confidence in INEC chairman, the CUPP spokesman said: “INEC has since conducted internal inquests and has identified all staff involved with external collaborators to compromise the voter register. In a few weeks, we expect to see prosecutions commence. There must be consequences for such crimes.
“It is based on the removal of over 2.7 million unqualified registrants, conducting of an internal inquiry into the Omuma Magic compromise of our national voter register to identify the staff involved, and publishing the voters register on its website that the opposition family unanimously passed a vote of confidence on the National Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu and the National Commissioners.
”He has so far shown courage, wisdom, commitment, faith, and capacity to ensure that the 2023 general election is transparent, credible, free, fair, and acceptable. He has also, by the publication, proven beyond reasonable doubt that INEC, at the highest level, is not complicit in the compromise of the register and that he has nothing to hide.”
The opposition parties urged all Nigerians to be part of the electoral process, adding that they had also observed under-aged voters as well as duplicated photos and names on the INEC register.
“At the Secretariat, we have noticed massive underage registration, duplicated photos, and names, particularly in states like Kano, Borno, Katsina, Jigawa, and Kaduna States.
”These observations are already being sent to the commission and Nigerians should be assured that every valid complaint will be considered and action was taken by the commission as they have assured us that all objections will be addressed. This is why they published the register online and at ward and LGA levels.”