The Independent National Electoral Commission has urged the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to track the sources of funds spent by politicians and political parties with a view to enforcing the provisions of the Electoral Act on electioneering campaign funding.
INEC chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, made the appeal on Thursday in Abuja while receiving the acting chairman of EFCC, Ibrahim Magu, on a visit to INEC.
According to Mr. Yakubu, this must be done to ensure election results are not determined by money spent by a candidate or party.
The Electoral Act as amended in 2010 states the maximum election expenses by a presidential candidate as N1 billion; governorship candidate as N200 million, candidates for Senate and House of Representatives seats as N40 million and 20 million respectively.
The Act also forbids an individual or any other entity from donating more than N1 million to a candidate. It also stipulates sanctions for any candidate who knowingly violates the Act.
“INEC is worried by the recent trend of open vote buying at polling stations,” Mr. Yakubu said. “Only votes of citizens should determine who wins election. Our democracy must never be on sale, it is the will of the people that should determine who wins. Therefore, Mr chairman, I look forward to working very closely with the EFCC to ensure that open vote buying will not be tolerated by the commission
“The second area is about party and campaign finance. The Electoral Act presents limit as to the amount parties and individuals can spend for election and also the amount that friends of candidates and parties can contribute in any election.”
“I want the EFCC to uphold that mandate in every capacity to track and to trace sources of funds and to work closely with us. Our democracy can never be on sale and by working closely with the EFCC we can achieve that.
“Arising from the outcome of the 2015 general elections, we received a report from the EFCC. As a result of that report, the commission interdicted the highest number of staff in the history of INEC. A total of 205 staff.
“I also wish to say that among the staff of the commission are some of the most conscientious and hardworking Nigerians and its for that reason that last year, the commission promoted 7335 for doing what they are supposed to do.
“I must also say that we are one of those commissions in the country working under severe pressure and time limit. Everything we do has time limit. In January, we conducted three elections across three states and there is an election to be conducted by the commission this Saturday in Katsina; and thereafter we also have another election in Taraba to conduct.
“As a result of the tremendous pressure on the commission and staff of the commission, last year alone we lost 85 members of INEC, many of them as a result of stress-related causes. In fact, as we speak, one of the staff at the secretariat had a stroke yesterday and is in intensive care at the hospital.”
Mr. Yakubu said irrespective of the pressure on the commission, it would always work for the best interest of Nigerians and democracy.
“We will not work for any candidate or party, we will not work against any party or people, we are here for the Nigerian people. We want at the end of the day the votes of the people to determines who wins an election and who loses,” he stressed.
“I look forward as always to working with your commission in the best interest of our democracy. We want to get our election right. If we get our democracy right, it will also be vital for the EFCC because most of the big cases we hear are related to election and politics.”
Speaking at the event, the EFCC acting chairman said it was on a courtesy visit and to show its support to the commission.
He called Nigerians to fight corruption in any way they can, saying “every evil in Nigeria is caused by corruption.”
Mr. Magu said EFCC was collaborating with INEC on a series of investigation and prosecution.