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2023 Polls: INEC says all candidates must declare bank assets

January 22nd 2022, 6:29:13 am

The electoral commission is determined to track politicians’ campaign expenditure before and during the election.

INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu

Ahead of the 2023 general elections, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has asked political parties and their candidates to disclose their bank assets and sources of their campaign funds.

The Chairman of the commission, Mahmood Yakubu said INEC would work with the Central Bank of Nigeria, Department of State Services (DSS), Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC), and commercial banks to carry out the task.

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Yakubu said this while speaking during a policy roundtable conference on political campaign finance organised by The Electoral Forum (TEF) in Abuja on Friday, January 21, 2022.

At a separate forum on Thursday, the INEC chairman, who was represented at the policy roundtable conference by the National Commissioner and chairman (Committee on Party Monitoring), Prof. Kunle Ajayi, said that the commission was determined to track politicians’ campaign expenditure before and during the election.

He said commercial banks would be required to report all suspicious transactions ahead of the elections, adding that failure to do so would attract prosecution.

Yakubu said, “As long as we have not notified anybody that the race to the 2023 general election has started, we are not unaware of what anybody is doing. We follow the law strictly.

“We have not officially declared notice for the 2023 general elections. But when we so declare, we will put our monitoring committees to motion, like the Central Bank of Nigeria, DSS, EFCC, the ICPC (commercial) banks and other law enforcement agencies. We have that plan already.

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“Every candidate must be made to declare his bank asset; that is where they draw out their money. So we will make them to present their statements of account right from the onset.

“We will make it mandatory for them to turn in their bank statement so that if they say they are doing billboard and the account remains the same, then there is a problem.”

According to Yakubu, INEC also plans to check vote-buying in the upcoming general elections.

He said, “We are going to establish finance monitoring teams and they will be among the electorate but they (politicians and political parties) won’t know.

“We are going to do it in a way that the influence of money will be reduced because we want to make the electoral field a level playing ground for both rich and poor candidates and the electorate.

“Everybody will go on an equal economic level so that you won’t influence the voting pattern.”

Also speaking at the forum, former INEC boss, Prof. Attahiru Jega said Nigerians paid too much attention to the issue of electronic transmission of results and neglected accountability.

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He said, “If we insist on accountability, then you can begin to somehow sanitise the way political parties raise funds. I think what has happened is that we paid too much attention to the issue of electronic transmission of results, and somehow they quickly passed the sections about raising the threshold. The civil societies did not pay much attention in their advocacy against this particular issue.”

Jega, therefore, advised the commission to explore ways and means of ensuring that there is accountability about how politicians raise funds for elections and how the expenditure is done.

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