Indications have emerged that the refusal of political parties to submit to the Independent National Electoral Commission their annual financial statement as required by the constitution and the Electoral Act has prevented the commission from monitoring their finances and publishing the same as mandated by the constitution.
INEC confirmed to Sunday PUNCH that it audited the accounts of the parties up to 2016 and it had gone far on their 2017 and 2018 accounts, whilst awaiting the remaining years.
INEC Chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, said at a meeting with chairmen of political parties in March 2021 that only one political party complied with the constitutional provision, warning that their refusal to comply was in contravention of the law.
Yakubu had said, “I wish to remind you that the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) requires each political party to submit two election expenses reports to the commission. First is the disclosure of material contributions received from individuals and corporate bodies three months after the announcement of the results of the General Election as provided for in Section 93(4) of the Electoral Act. So far, no political party is in compliance.
“Secondly, parties are required to submit audited returns of their election expenses within six months after an election as provided for in Section 92(3)(a) of the Electoral Act. Although we are still within the time frame provided by law, so far only one party has filed its returns. Similarly, the commission notes that only one presidential candidate has submitted financial expenses report. We wish to remind leaders of political parties of their obligations under the law.”
A top source in the commission however told our correspondent that the reason INEC had defaulted in publishing the accounts annually, in line with the constitution, was because political parties had refused to comply.
The source said, “The truth of the matter is that the parties have not been complying. I don’t know how many of them have been complying, but the big ones have not. These are our stakeholders and we meet with them, so we don’t want it to appear as if we are dragging them in the media.”
When asked why the commission did not sanction them for not complying, the source said, “We try to persuade them to do what is expected of them rather than wield the big stick. The current chairman likes to persuade people instead of imposing sanctions all the time. It is only when we try all persuasive means and they don’t change that we apply sanctions, and then they come begging.
“When the chairman comes out to speak like that, it’s a note of warning to them and we expect that they should understand. They don’t have to wait till the commission comes hard on them in that regard.”
Meanwhile, when asked why the commission has not published the parties’ audited accounts for years, violating the constitution that seeks to entrench transparency and accountability in the way the parties are run, the Chief Press Secretary to INEC Chairman, Mr Rotimi Oyekanmi, said, “The commission has audited the accounts of political parties up till 2016 and we have gone far on 2017 and 2018 accounts.
“However, the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2019 slowed us down. Don’t forget also, the commission deregistered 74 political parties in February 2020 and we now have 18 political parties. However, we have made substantial progress and work on this issue will be completed in due course.”
Section 86 of the Electoral Act mandates every political party to submit its detailed annual statement of account to the commission, which would be audited by the commission and subsequently published in two national newspapers and the commission’s website.
Section 86 (1) states, “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 statement 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 Nl,000,000 or imprisonment for a term of six months or both. (3) A political party shall grant to any officer authorised in writing by the commission, access to examine the records and audited accounts kept by the political party in accordance with the provisions of this Act and the political party shall give to the officer all such information as may be requested in relation to all contributions received by or on behalf of the party.
“(4) The commission shall publish the report on such examinations and audit in two national newspapers and the commission’s website within 30 days of receipt of the results.”
Similarly, section 15, under Part I of the Third Schedule of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), mandates the commission to “monitor the organisation and operation of the political parties, including their finances,” and “arrange for the annual examination and auditing of the funds and accounts of political parties, and publish a report on such examination and audit for public information.”
Also, Section 225 (1) states, “Every political party shall, at such times and in such manner as the independent National Electoral Commission and publish a statement of its assets and liabilities.” The subsection (2) adds, “Every political party shall submit to the Independent National Electoral Commission a detailed annual statement and analysis of its sources of funds and other assets together with a similar statement of its expenditure in such form as the Commission may require.”
When contacted on the reason for their refusal to submit their detailed accounts annually, some of the major parties did not answer their calls.
…hires 25,500 ad hoc staff for Ekiti, Osun elections
Meanwhile, INEC has said it will deploy about 25,500 ad hoc staff for the forthcoming Ekiti and Osun states governorship elections, adding that the application and recruitment processes had been concluded in preparation for the elections.
Ekiti governorship election is scheduled for June 18 while that of Osun is scheduled for July 16.
Oyekanmi noted, “Ekiti State has 2,445 Polling Units, while Osun State has 3,763 Polling Units. For Ekiti, the commission will deploy over 10,000 ad hoc staff. For Osun, over 15,500 ad hoc staff will be mobilised.
“The application and recruitment process has already been concluded. It was widely advertised. The commission launched an online portal on April 4, 2022 for interested eligible citizens to apply. The portal was shut down on April 24.”
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