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INEC inaugurates group to trail campaign finances
AHEAD of the general election, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has inaugurated an inter-agency campaign finance monitoring group .
The group was inaugurated by a national commissioner, Antonia Okosi-Simbine, on behalf of the chairman of the electoral commission in Abuja.
Partnering with the commission’s election and party finance monitoring department, the group will monitor the source of funding and spending of all the candidates and political parties.
The members of the campaign finance monitoring group comprise 10 governmental agencies in the country which include the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Nigeria Communication Commission (NCC) and Centre for Social Justice (CSJ).
Others are the Nigeria Police Force (NPF), Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC), , and the Nigerian Press Council (NPC).
The team will be headed by Eze Onyekpere of the Centre for Social Justice and was expected to submit its report after six months.
Meanwhile, the commission said the tracking of campaign financing is expected to end on the date for both the presidential and governorship election.
Also speaking at the event, an assistant director, Campaign Finance Tracking Unit, Ishaq Aliyu, said they recorded a milestone in the 2015 campaign finance tracking but there is need to do more during the 2019 election.
“We have built the capacity of the staff. They review the tracking forms to include separate forms for candidates and political parties. The tracking ends on the day of the election,” Mr Aliyu said.
INEC said those who spent beyond what the legal framework provided for or spent outrageously would have themselves to blame.
The Electoral Act 2010 (as amended), gave the commission power to hunt and report political parties election expenses.
According to section 91 of the Act, a presidential candidate maximum election expenses is stipulated for N1 billion, while the governorship is for N200 million.
It stipulated a maximum of N40 million and N20 million for senate and House of Representatives respectively. The case of State Assembly election, the maximum amount incurred is NI0 million.
The act restricted an individual or other entity donation for any candidate to a maximum of N1 million.
The Act indicates that any political party that incurs election expenses beyond the limit stipulated in Law commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a maximum fine of N1 million. It added that in the case of party’s failure to submit accurate audited return within the stipulated period, the court may impose a maximum penalty of N2oo thousand per day till the audited report is submitted.
Similarly, the Electoral Act stipulates N1 million fine or imprisonment of 12 months or both for any one that spend over N1 billion on presidential election; N800 thousand fine or 9 months’ imprisonment for governorship election.