Two years after the 2019 general elections, political parties continued to shun provisions of the Electoral Act, mandating them to furnish the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) with details of financial contributions received from individuals and corporate bodies for elections.
Tribune Online checks revealed that by virtue of Section 92(3)(a) of the Electoral Act, parties are required to submit audited returns of their election expenses within six months after an election.
Investigation revealed that out of the 73 political parties that fielded candidates in the last general elections, only obe party complied with the provisions of the Act. The All Progressives Congress and the main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party have not complied with the regulations.
Investigation revealed that at a meeting with leadership of the political parties during the review of the 2019 general elections, INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, expressed his frustrations over the indifference of the political parties to comply with provisions of the Electoral Act.
Professor Yakubu specifically cited sections 93(4) and 92(3)(a) of the Electoral Act. While the former makes it mandatory for parties to disclose contributions received from individuals and corporate bodies for the last elections, the latter requested that audited returns of their election expenses within six months after an election be made available to the commission.
Addressing the gathering of chairmen of political parties, Professor Yakubu disclosed that only one party had since complied with the provisions as of 2019.
He 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,” he said.
Acting Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Yekeen Nabena, could not be reached for comment on why the ruling party has observed provisions of the Electoral Act in the breach.
A party source however told Tribune Online that the party was already processing its financial audit for submission to the electoral umpire.
He said: “The auditing has been in process, we want to be thorough. We want to be sure that the auditing is properly carried out. Very soon, it will be out and once it is done, the public will know because it will be sent to INEC.”
National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Kola Ologbodiyan, could not be reached. He didn’t pick his calls and failed to respond to text messages.
Rotimi Oyekanmi, Chief Press Secretary to INEC Chairman, disclosed that there are ample provisions in the Electoral Act to sanction erring political parties. He however noted that the electoral body must secure conviction in a court of law before it could apply sanctions.
He said:”Section 92(3)(b) provides sanction for failure to submit election expenses report.
“However, the sanction requires that the party shall be liable on conviction to a maximum fine of N1 million and N200,000 per day for the period after the return was due until it is submitted to the commission.
“Besides, Section 92(6) of the Electoral Act 2010 provides that any political party that incurs election expenses beyond the limit stipulated is guilty of an offence and shall Be liable on conviction to a maximum fine of N1 million and forfeiture to the commission of the excess amount.
“In a nutshell, the commission cannot simply apply sanctions. It must seek conviction in a court of law. This partly the reason there is advocacy for an Election Offences Tribunal.”