- Commission decries high rate of vote buying
The Independent National Electoral Commission (EFCC) has asked the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to help it track sources of campaign finances by registered political parties and their candidates. The commission also decried high rate of vote buying by political parties and their candidates at polling centres during election.
The Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) stipulates the amount of money political parties and their candidates could spend on electioneering. The Electoral Act pegs the maximum campaign expenses by a presidential candidate of a political party at N1 billion; governorship candidate has a spending limit of N200 million while senatorial and House of Representative candidates are supposed to spend N40 million and N20 million respectively.
And for individual or corporate entity contribution, the Act stipulates that not more than N1 million should be donated for a candidate’s campaign. No candidate is permitted by the Act to receive foreign donation to finance his or her campaign. But INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, told acting EFCC Chairman, Mr. Ibrahim Magu, that this provision of the Act was observed in breach by politicians. Yakubu, who was speaking when the EFCC Chairman visited INEC headquarters in Abuja yesterday on a courtesy visit, said it is the right of Nigerians to vote for their leaders, which must be upheld by INEC.
“The Electoral Act places limit as to the amount parties and individuals can spend on elections, and also the amount that friends of candidates and parties can contribute in any election. “We will like the EFCC, which has both the mandate and the capacity to track and trace sources of fund to work very closely with us so that we can operate within the limit of the law.
“Our democracy can never be on sale and it must never be on the open market, and I believe that by working very closely with the EFCC, we can achieve that,” Yakubu pleaded. He also expressed worry on the recent trend of open votes buying at polling stations during elections. According to him, candidates and parties storm polling stations with sacks of money to induce voters. “Votes of citizens should determine who wins in an election. Our democracy must never be on sale at the open market. It is the will of the people that should determine who wins.
“Therefore, Mr. Chairman, we look forward to be working very closely with the EFCC to ensure that open vote buying will not be tolerated by the commission. And we don’t want the 2019 general elections to be determined by the amount of money people have,” he said. The INEC Chairman, however, assured that the commission would remain an unbiased umpire. His words: “We will not work for any candidate or party; we will not work against any candidate or party. “We are here to work for Nigerian people, and on Election Day, the votes they cast will determine who wins or loses the election.”
He also pledged to collaborate with the EFCC, noting that 205 INEC staff indicted by the EFCC for their role in the 2015 general elections were interdicted by the INEC management. Yakubu regretted that the commission lost 85 of its staff last year as a result of stress and pressure of work. “In fact, as we speak, one of our staff from the commission’s secretariat had a stroke yesterday (Wednesday), and he is in the intensive care of our hospital. “But we will continue to do what we have sworn to do in the interest of this country, irrespective of what the pressure is,” he assured.
The EFCC Chairman stated that the commission was prepared to work with INEC, and called on the people to register so as to exercise their civic duties during elections. Magu said every Nigerian has the responsibility to join the fight against corruption, describing corruption as a disaster, which has done too much damage to the country. “We are ready to collaborate and work with the INEC. “We are all Nigerians; all of us have equal responsibility in fighting corruption. Corruption is the worst enemy of Nigeria,” he said.
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