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2019: INEC engages anti-graft agencies to track campaign finance

Published by The Nation on Tue, 12 Feb 2019

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has enlisted the services of the anti-graft agencies in tracking the campaign finances for 2019 elections.The anti-graft agencies include; Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Financial Investigation Unit (FIU) to help monitor and track campaign finances of political parties and their candidates.Others are The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Nigeria Communication Commission (NCC) Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), the Nigeria Police Force (NPF).The group will be under the leadership of Barrister Eze Onyekpere, Centre for Social Justice.The committee is expected to submit its report after six months. A National Commissioner, Prof. Antonia Okosi-Simbine inaugurated the committee on behalf of the chairman of the commission.The ten member group is to monitor the spendig of all the candidates and political parties spending to ensure they dont exceed the approved sealing.Nigerians are expected to go to pollson Saturday,16th February 2019for the presidential and National Assembly seats while the states elections come upon the 2nd of March 2019.The tracking for campaign financing is expected toend on the 16thFebruary 2019 for the presidential and National Assembly while for the state elections the tracking willend on the 2ndMarch 2019.INEC had said that it will be monitoring the ongoing campaign by various political parties and candidates closely ahead of the 2019 general elections.Read Also:INEC and the electoratesTheCampaign for the 2019 Presidential election officially commencedon Sunday 13 November2918 as provided for by the Electoral Act.The commission is empowered by the section 90 of electoral Act, 2010 as amended to place a peg on campaign expenses. Election expenses is the expenses incurred by a political party and candidate within the period from date notice is given by the commission to conduct an election.Section 91 of the electoral Act stipulated a maximum of one billion Naira (N1, 000,000,000) for presidential candidate. While for candidate for governorship seat cannot spend more than 200,000,000 for campaign.Maximum amount allowed for Senate and House of Representatives is N40, 000,000.00 and N20, 000,000.00 respectively.The Act does not allow individual or entity to donate more than N1, 000,000.00 to any candidate.A political party that incurs election expenses beyond the limit stipulated in this Act commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a maximum fine of N1, 000,000.00 and forfeiture to the commission of the amount by which the expenses exceed the limit set by the commission.The Electoral Act 2010 as amended also stipulated N1, 000,000,000.00 fine or imprisonment for a term of 12 months or both as punishment for any individual that contravene the Act for the presidential and N600, 000 for the senatorial election while, House of Representatives N500, 000 or imprisonment N500, 000.00 for the governorship, it is N800, 000.00 or imprisonment of nine months or both.The commission had in the past confronted by some challenges which had hindered its work.However, the commission said it was ready to wield the big stick on any party or candidate that contravenes the law.Speaking during the inauguration of the Inter-agency campaign finance monitoring Group yesterday, INEC national commissioner, Prof. Anthonia OkosiSimbina said the report of the 2019 campaign finances will be release immediately after the election.We will check newspapers advert, TV, Radio, billboard and we must see to the conclusion. Those who spent beyond what the legal frame work provided for or spent outrageously will have themselves to blame, Simbina said.According to her, Vote buying must be monitored too. And those reports must be published after the election. Unlike what happened in the past, 6 months will be late for the report. We will ensure compliance to the electoral act, Simbina added.She said all the 10 groups engaged for the tracking of the campaign finances will be working with the electoral finance and party monitoring department of INEC.Also speaking, the assistant director, Campaign Finance Tracking Unit, Ishaq Garba Aliyu, while speaking on the process, said they recorded milestone in the 2015 campaign finance tracking adding that they wont leave chances in the 2019 election campaigns.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 election, Aliyu said.
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