Deji Adeyanju, the Nigerian human rights activist, has called on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Independent National Electoral Commission to put a stop to vote-buying plans by presidential aspirants of the two leading political parties in the country, the All Progressives Congress and the Peoples Democratic Party.
Adeyanju, in a letter, addressed to the Chairmen of the two agencies, called for an investigation into the presidential primary.
He noted that section 7(2) of the Economic and Financial Crimes Act gives the commission power to enforce the provisions of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act while noting that section 122(1) of the Electoral Act 2020 and other provisions empower INEC to carry out a thorough investigation into the issue and nip the scheme in the bud.
The activist argued that the failure of the agencies to investigate the vote-buying plans already made the primary elections flawed, thereby affecting the sanctity of the general elections which had dire consequences for the country.
He argued, “Section 121(1) of the Electoral Act, 2022 states that: Any person who does any of the following – Directly or indirectly, by himself or herself or by any other person on his or her behalf, corruptly makes any gift, loan, offer, promise, procurement or agreement to or for any person, in order to induce such person to procure or to endeavour to procure the return of any person as a member of a legislative house or to an elective office or the vote of any voter at an election; Commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a maximum fine of N500,000 or imprisonment for a term of 12 months or both.
“As you may be aware, the two leading political parties in the country, the All Progressives Congress and the Peoples Democratic Party have scheduled the last week of May 2022 for their presidential primaries. In another clime and at a distant time in our nation’s history, this would have been a routine exercise.
“However, there is nothing routine about this particular exercise, as our attention has been drawn to the fact that some presidential aspirants in the two leading political parties, the PDP and the APC have concluded plans to monetise the upcoming primaries by inducing the delegates at the point of voting in a “show your vote scheme”.
“This scheme is perfected where the delegates stealthy shows their vote to the aspirant or his representative before dropping same in the ballot box, or record a video at the point of voting and send same to the aspirant or his representative, in return for immediate financial gains.
“To achieve this scheme, the politicians will need to have a large amount of cash in or around the area where the primaries will be conducted. You may note that section 1 of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act stipulates that; “No person or body corporate shall, except in a transaction through a financial institution, make or accept cash payment of a sum exceeding – N5,000,000 or its equivalent, in the case of an individual; or N10,000,000 or its equivalent, in the case of a body corporate.”
“Furthermore, you may also note that section 7(2) of the Economic and Financial Crimes Act gives the commission the powers to enforce the provisions of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act.
“A combination of the foregoing has set the tone for you to investigate the issues raised herein and place your men in or around the centres where the party primaries will hold, in order to prevent any possible monetisation of our political process.
“It should be noted that party primaries are one of the most important steps in the electoral process, as it heralds the formal nomination of presidential candidates, culminating in the general elections.
“Accordingly, where the primaries are flawed, the sanctity of the general election will ultimately be called to question, with dire consequences for our country. You, therefore, have a solemn duty to ensure that the electoral process is not monetised at the detriment of the ordinary Nigerians.
“In addition to the above, the Independent National Electoral Commission is constitutionally empowered to enforce the provisions of the Electoral Act, 2022.
“It, therefore, behoves on the commission to ensure that the provisions of section 122(1) and other relevant provisions of the Electoral Act 2020 are invoked to deal with any person or entity who may attempt to monetise the upcoming party primaries.”