Eniola Akinkuotu, Abuja
The Independent National Electoral Commission has called on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to monitor the sources of funding of politicial parities’campaigns as the 2019 general elections approach.
The Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, said this when the acting EFCC Chairman, Mr. Ibrahim Magu, paid him a courtesy visit in Abuja on Thursday.
According to the Electoral Act, no presidential candidate can spend over N1bn, no governorship candidate can spend over N200m and no senatorial candidate can spend above N40m.
The law also limits the amount of money that a person or association can donate to a political campaign.
However, the INEC chairman said most political parties and politicians had no regard for the law. He therefore called on the EFCC to assist INEC in curbing corruption.
Yakubu said, “The Electoral Act places limits on the amount that each individual can spend in an election and also the amount that friends of candidates and parties can contribute in the election.
“We want the EFCC which has the mandate and capacity to track and trace sources of funds to work closely with us so that we can trace within the limits of the law. Our democracy should never be on sale and I believe by working closely with the EFCC, we can achieve that.”
The INEC chairman said the anti-graft agency should also help the electoral body to tackle the issue of bribing voters at polling units.
He said, “As we approach the 2019 general elections, we will require your support essentially in two ways. Number one, INEC is worried by the recent trend of vote buying at open polling stations. Candidates and parties go to polling stations with sacks of money to induce voters.
“Only the votes of citizens should determine who wins an election. Our democracy must never be for sale on the open market. It is the will of the people that should determine who wins.
“Open vote buying will not be tolerated by the commission and we don’t want the 2019 general election to be determined by the amount of money that people have.”
Yakubu thanked the EFCC for helping the commission to expose corrupt officials, many of whom, he said, were facing prosecution in several courts.
The INEC boss said over 200 officials had been sacked or suspended for alleged corrupt practices. He, however, maintained that most INEC officials were hard-working and honest.
He said at least 85 officials died due to stress last year, adding that their work for the commission must be appreciated.
Yakubu added, “We interdicted a total of 205 officials. I also wish to say that among the staff of the commission are some of the conscientious and most hard-working Nigerians and it is for that reason that last year, the commission promoted 7,330 staff members.
“I also wish to say that we are one of the agencies in the country working under extreme pressure with time limits. Everything we do has a time limit under the law. In January, we conducted elections in three states and we have another one in Katsina this Saturday and thereafter, we have another one in Taraba.”
“As a result of the tremendous pressure on the staff, it may interest you to know that we lost 85 employees of INEC, many of them were as a result of stress-related illnesses. In fact, as we speak, one of our officials had a stroke yesterday and is in hospital. “
Earlier, the acting EFCC chairman had said most of the problems plaguing Nigeria were caused by corruption.
He added that even cancer could be traced to corruption.
Magu called on Nigerians to assist the anti-graft agency to tackle corruption, adding that the EFCC could not do it alone.
He also commended INEC for helping to tackle corruption.
The EFCC boss said, “Everyone must join in the fight against corruption. Corruption is a disaster, it has done too much damage in this country and I believe INEC is fighting corruption indirectly. They may not be fighting corruption the way we are fighting it. That is why I said fight corruption whichever way you want to fight it.”