2015: INEC to oversee parties' campaign expenditures

By The Citizen

In a bid to ensure fairness ahead of the 2015 general elections, the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Attahiru Jega, on Tuesday in Abuja said it would begin to monitor the campaign expenses of political parties.

He said in the past, the commission was not able to monitor this but said it was determined to do this in the coming years.

'It is clear that there are certain limits imposed in the legal framework as to how much candidates can spend during electoral campaigns. Regrettably, we have not been able to monitor this in the past and we are doing our best so that as we approach 2015, we should be able to monitor campaign expenditures of candidates,' Jega said.

He also admitted that the commission lacked the capacity to prosecute all the electoral offenders.

He, therefore, called on the National Assembly to revisit the Justice Mohammed Uwais-led Electoral Reform Committee's recommendation for a bill to establish a separate commission to handle the issue of electoral offences, ahead of the 2015 general elections.

Such an initiative, according to him, will ensure speedy prosecution of the numerous electoral offenders that may be identified by the commission to have violated extant electoral laws during elections.

The INEC chairman stated this at a confidence building workshop with women and youths of political parties in Abuja.

Jega also criticised the leaders of the country's political parties for running them like garrison commanders and also for engaging in abuses during campaigns rather than discussing issues.

Jega spoke during a workshop with youth and women groups on voter registration, continuous voter registration and the permanent voter cards, jointly organised by INEC and Democracy and Good Governance.

According to the INEC boss, the commission does not have the manpower to prosecute all the electoral offenders at once.

He also blamed the nation's judicial system and the police for the slow nature of most of the cases in court.

Jega said,' I have mentioned our partnership with security agents. We are doing our best to apprehend and prosecute culprits, if it happens; but we are also trying to prevent it from happening. In the past, there was no successful prosecution of those who committed this crime.

'Since we came to the commission, we have been able to apprehend and prosecute some of them. We have been able to prosecute about 200 people, who committed electoral offences.