Publish parties’ financial transactions, SERAP tells INEC

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A group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project has urged the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, to widely publish the reports on the accounts and balance sheet of every political party submitted by INEC to the National Assembly since 2015.

SERAP also urged the INEC Chairman 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 the 2023 general election.

Recall that the All Progressives Congress collected N100m for its presidential forms while the Peoples Democratic Party took N40m for its presidential forms for the 2023 election.

In the letter dated May 21, 2022, and signed by SERAP’s Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the group 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.

The letter reads in part, “When a political candidate decides to buy the support of the people rather than contest fairly for their votes, there are possibilities that such candidate will show a disregard for democratic rules and a disposition to adopt illegal means becomes inevitable.

“Vote buying and related electoral offences encourage poor governance and weaken citizens’ capacity to hold their elected officials accountable for their actions.

“SERAP urges you 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 you by then, SERAP shall consider appropriate legal actions to compel INEC to comply with our request in the public interest.

“The lack of transparency and accountability in political finance is seriously undermining the legitimacy and credibility of the democratic and electoral processes, and invariably contributing to denying the citizens the right to effective participation in their own government.

“The failure of political parties to comply with transparency and accountability frameworks would undermine citizens’ trust in their political parties and lack of trust will inevitably destroy confidence in the system and decrease citizens’ interest and participation in the democratic process.

“Elections are only one part of the democratic process, and a fair and effective electoral system must be founded on adequate democratic infrastructure and responsibility of political leaders.

“According to our information, several political parties have for many years failed to submit their annual financial statements to INEC. Many political parties have failed to submit election expenses reports and to disclose material contributions received from individuals and corporate bodies to the Commission.

“The Commission has also been apparently unable or unwilling to monitor, examine and publish these financial statements.”

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