SERAP urges INEC to publish political parties’ accounts submitted to NASS
Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged Professor Mahmood Yakubu, the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to widely publish the reports on the accounts and balance sheet of every political party submitted by INEC to the National Assembly since 2015.
They also urged him to provide details of the guidelines, and steps that INEC is taking to prevent vote buying in the forthcoming elections in Ekiti and Osun states and 2023 general elections, and to prosecute vote buyers and other electoral offenders.
SERAP said: “Nigerians have the right to know about the accounts and financial transactions of their political parties, especially the major parties with a strong possibility to assume government in the future.
“Transparency and accountability of political parties are important to achieve greater transparency in public life, curb the influence of money in politics, promote a level playing field, and remove the risks to the independence of political actors and would-be public office holders.
“It is immoral & illegal to pay citizens to vote for a particular political party or candidate. Unpunished cases of vote buying & related electoral offences would continue to undermine good governance, rule of law, and moral values, as well as hinder citizens’ participation in elections.
“Vote buying and related electoral offences encourage poor governance and weaken citizens’ capacity to hold their elected officials accountable for their actions.
SERAP further urged him to urgently take measures and to collaborate with appropriate anti-corruption agencies to ensure the effective prosecution of any outstanding cases of vote buying and related electoral offences allegedly committed in the context of the 2019 general elections.
“We would be grateful if the recommended measures are taken within 14 days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from him by then, SERAP shall consider appropriate legal actions to compel INEC to comply with our request in the public interest.
“For many years, allegations of vote buying (the payment of cash or gifts in exchange for voting) and related electoral offences have characterized elections and party primaries in the country.
“Despite several provisions of the Electoral Act (as amended), anti-corruption laws, and the country’s international anti-corruption obligations, suspected perpetrators of vote buying and related electoral offences frequently escape justice for their crimes.
“However, INEC has consistently failed to exercise its powers and to provide the leadership that would promote collaboration with appropriate anti-corruption agencies to facilitate and ensure thorough, transparent and effective investigation of cases, and the arrest and prosecution of suspected perpetrators.
“Section 86(1) of the Electoral Act 2022 requires every political party to submit to INEC a detailed annual statement of assets and liabilities and analysis of its sources of funds and other assets and statement of its expenditure.
“Failure to comply is an offence under Section 86(2), which is punishable by imprisonment for a term of six months or a fine of N1,000,000 or both.
“Under Section 86(3)(4) INEC has the power to examine the records and audited accounts kept by any political party, and to publish the report on such examinations and audit in two national newspapers and Commission’s website within 30 days of receipt of the results.
“Section 226 (1) of the Electoral Act 2022 also requires INEC to prepare and submit a report every year to the National Assembly on the accounts and balance sheet of every political party.
“Under Section 225(5), INEC has the power to give directions to political parties regarding their books or records of financial transactions.
“Persistent failure to arrest and prosecute suspected perpetrators of vote buying and related electoral offences may ultimately undermine public confidence, the integrity of the country’s elections, and lead to widespread disaffection with the electoral process”, SERAP stated.