Breach Of Electoral Act: Party Officials Risk 6 Months Jail Over Vague Financial Reports

While political parties continue to spend heavily on elections in defiance of the Electoral Act, their officials risk being jailed six months for vague annual financial statements which fail to disclose such spending at the end of the day.

Civil society organisations in the country have, however, expressed worry over persistent violation of the Electoral Act by Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for not publishing audited reports of the parties.

Section 86 (1) of the Electoral Act stipulates that “every political party shall submit to the Commission a detailed annual statement of assets and liabilities and analysis of its sources of funds and other assets, together with statements of its expenditure, including hard and soft copy of its list of members or in such a form as the Commission may require.

“(2) Any official of the political party who contravenes subsection (1) commits an offence and is liable to a fine of N1,000,000 or imprisonment for a term of six months or both.”

Worried by non-compliance of political parties to Electoral Act, the CSOs also berated political parties for failing to submit their financial reports to the electoral body.

electoral act


The CSOs which spoke with LEADERSHIP include the Civil Society Legislative and Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Transparency International Nigeria, Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), and Connected Development (CODE)

The executive director of CISLAC, Comrade Auwal Musa Rafsanjani said that the CSOs were worried that the consistent violation of the Electoral Act shows a flagrant disrespect for the rule of law.

Rafsanjani, who doubles as the head of Transparency International Nigeria, said the development was capable of undermining free, fair and credible elections, and called for strict compliance.

He said the lack of respect for the rule of law is a dangerous trend in the country.

“INEC must ensure discipline so that elections will not be priviatised and monetised and, at the end, do whatever they want to do when they get elected. And that is why campaign funding limit is crucial, so that they won’t trade with the mandate of governance, thereby neglecting their mandate. Good governance, accountability and respect for the rule of law will suffer and this will not bring about discipline and leadership accountability.

“That is why CISCLAC, TIN and CDD have been insisting that the electoral process and laws are respected in line with the electoral act.

“If we continue with this, it portends danger to our quest for good governance, and the inability for the ruling party to lead by example has hampered them to be a role model; rather, they are big violators.

“INEC should work closely with law enforcement agencies to ensure compliance,” he added.

On his part, the senior programme manager of CDD West Africa, Austin Aigbe, also frowned at the lack of compliance, even as he lamented that election campaigns are too costly in Nigeria.

“There are over 776,000 polling units and if polling agents are deployed and paid an allowance as low as N10,000 each, the parties are already spending billions on election day alone.

“This is minus the campaigns, advertorials in both print and broadcast media, bill boards, renting and decoration of campaign grounds; so the politicians end up selling their houses and receiving donations, and once they get into power they want to recoup their money and all this would lead to lack of accountability.”

He added: “All audited copies of campaign spending ought to be sent to INEC six months after election while the commission publishes it three months after.

“And what we are asking INEC is they ought to take the bull by the horn to ensure compliance. They can go to court and stop such party from contesting if they fail to submit their election spending. INEC must take legal action so that the party will step up their game,” he said.

For the chief executive officer of CODE, Hamzat Lawal, INEC and anti-corruption agencies need to enforce this law on parties. He stressed that INEC alone cannot check election spending.

“You need the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission for assistance and to coordinate efforts to ensure that corrupt politicians do not use vote buying and selling to deter accountability,” he said.

He also stressed the need to empower the police and other security officials to tackle this menace and deliver democratic dividends.

He accused the present administration of promoting lack of fiscal accountability, saying he doesn’t understand the failure to audit Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of government.

“Till today we have an extinct audit law. The audit law is at the table of President Muhammadu Buhari begging for assent. If we have an independent audit body that can hold INEC and other MDAs to account, all this won’t happen; they won’t flout the law.

“There are over 200 MDAs in Nigeria, yet they have not submitted their audit reports. Yes, INEC must be held to a high standard, but we need a legal and regulatory framework that regulates them on issues around audit,” he said.


We Have Not Violated The Law, Says IPAC

Meanwhile, the political parties in the country have said that they complied with INEC’s directives on compilation of their financial reports.

Speaking through the national chairman of the Inter-party Advisory Council (IPAC), the umbrella body of all the political parties in Nigeria, Alhaji Yabagi Sani, said all the political parties complied with the financial audit, adding that there is no violation.

“We comply. We have a circular signed by INEC to all political parties and all comply. So, all political parties complied. I have not seen the report but I know that the political parties complied,” Sani said.

Also, the acting publicity secretary of IPAC, who is also the organising secretary, Egbeola Wale Marthins, said INEC sent their personnel to all the political parties and they complied.

“We know that there was substantial compliance. We have a body saddled with the responsibility of interpreting the law. INEC is a regulatory body.

“We are now facing the general election. We don’t need to heat up the polity. If there is a political party that did not do it properly, INEC can call them to correct it because there is mutual cooperation and understanding,” Marthins said.


INEC Pledges To Address Claims, Objections On Voter Register

Meanwhile, INEC has said it will address all claims and objections made on the register of voters after the document display exercise on November 25.

The nation’s electoral body said it has been harvesting the online claims and objections and it will do the same for the manual process, stating that in this way, citizens are contributing to the strengthening of the country’s electoral process.

INEC national commissioner and chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, disclosed this in a statement made available to newsmen in Abuja yesterday on the ongoing display of voter register which commenced last Saturday.

Okoye said claims and objections raised by Nigerians, which will be addressed in due course, was the prism through which recent media reports on the presence of ineligible registrants in the register should be seen.

“The full display of all registrants speaks to the Commission’s commitment to transparency. The fact that these likely ineligible registrants are being identified means that the objectives of the display for claims and objections are being met. We implore the public to follow the procedures and report these objections for the necessary action of the Commission.

“In addition, the commission cannot rule out infractions by its registration officials in allowing these ineligible persons into the register in the first place. Therefore, each confirmed case of infraction will be thoroughly investigated and culpable officials will be disciplined.”

He reassured Nigerians that the Commission was committed to transparency and accountability in all its activities, even as he expressed hope that at the end of the exercise, the Commission, with the involvement of citizens, would have improved the quality of the Register of Voters, which is the bedrock of a successful election.

“Nigerians should note that perfecting the register is a continuous and painstaking process over time. Indeed, the presently displayed register contains all the voters dating back to the registration of 2011, not just the recent exercise.

“That some of these likely ineligible entries are being found presently confirms the Commission’s position that the best way to make the voters’ register more robust is for Nigerians to continue to scrutinise it and, more importantly, make their claims and objections for its improvement,” he said.

Okoye restated that the purpose of the display is to enable Nigerians to scrutinise the preliminary register and make claims about misspellings of names, personal details or missing names on the register so that the errors can be corrected.

He said citizens can also raise objections about the presence of ineligible persons, such as those below the age of 18 years, dead persons, foreigners, or those making false claims, so that they can be deleted from the register in line with the Commission’s established rules.

“As earlier announced, the Commission will display the physical copies of the register for claims and objections at two levels ; fiirst, at the Registration Area level from 12th to 18th November 2022, and thereafter, at the Local Government level from 19th to 25th November 2022.”

According to him, the register is also displayed on the Commission’s website so that citizens can simultaneously make both claims and objections online throughout the duration of the exercise.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here