Advocacy group. Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), has urged Professor Mahmood Yakubu to “widely publish the reports on the accounts and balance sheet of every political party submitted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to the National Assembly since 2015.” SERAP urged the INEC chairman to “urgently examine the books and records of financial transactions of political parties, and to make public the outcome of any such examination.”
SERAP also urged him 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 2023 general elections, and to prosecute vote buyers and other electoral offenders.”
Recently, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) collected N100 million and N40 million for their presidential form respectively for the 2023 election. In a letter dated 21 May, 2022, and signed by its deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, SERAP 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.
“Transparency and accountability of political parties is important to achieve greater transparency in public life, curb the influence of money in politics, promote a level playing field, and remove the risks to the independence of political actors and would-be public office holders.
“It is both immoral and illegal to pay citizens to vote for a par- ticular political party or candidate. Unpunished cases of vote buying and related electoral offences would continue to undermine good governance, the rule of law, moral values, as well as hinder citizens’ participation in elections, The Trumpet gathered.
The letter added: “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 com- mitted 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 in an 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.