2019 Polls: How Weak Electoral Laws Aids Vote Buying – CSJ

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The Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) has said that weak electoral laws play a major role in vote buying in the country’s political process, saying it’s a threat to the 2019 general elections.

The Lead Director of the centre, Eze Onyekpere, disclosed this in Abuja on Wednesday at a ‘High Level Forum on Campaign Finance and State Administrative Resources’ organised by the CSJ and Friedrich Ebert Stiftung Nigeria Office.

According to him, the absence of disclosure requirements for candidates in the Electoral Act is a big lacuna, deliberately introduced by the legislature in all electoral laws since 1999 and that the weak laws as contained in the constitution lead to misuse of state administrative resources by politicians.

“The provisions of section 225 (2) and (5) are wide enough for INEC to undertake the detailed monitoring of political financing in Nigeria. INEC could ask for names and other details of donors to candidates and political parties.

“The bar on the receipt of funding from outside Nigeria appears to be a total but it is a known fact that parties in Nigeria have chapters in other countries like USA and UK. The poser arises whether there is a monitoring mechanism in place between INEC and the political parties to verify if they do not receive funds from outside Nigeria.

“There is no provision requiring candidates who have explicit statutory expenditure ceilings to disclose or report their expenditure to INEC or any authority or agency. The constitution focuses its attention on reporting by political parties and neglects expenditure of candidates.

“The Presidential System of Government in Nigeria makes elections and campaign spending candidate-centric instead of being party-centric and this leaves a great vacuum because campaign expenses form the greater bulk of political financing and the bulk spenders are not under constitutional obligation to report their expenditure,” Onyekpere said.

On the use of state administrative resources contained in section 100 of the Act, he said that government vehicles, aircrafts, equipment and buildings should not be used for campaign purposes, as they are public properties which if used by the incumbents gives him a head start way above the resources available to other contestants.

While saying that the 2013 code of conduct for political parties makes provisions outlawing political parties and their agents from engaging in corrupt practices including buying votes or offering any bribe to voters, he said that recent events of vote buying in Ekiti and Osun governorship elections show the need for strict enforcement of the laws and other prohibitions of vote buying by political parties.

He therefore tasked the National Assembly and INEC on the establishment of Political Finance Monitoring Group (PFMG) by either amending the Electoral Act or through a special and new legislation to ensure that all stakeholders including INEC, political parties, the police, EFCC, ICPC, and the media among others will be on board for the enforcement of the laws while political parties should also sensitize members on campaign finance.