Donations To Goodluck/Sambo Campaign Contravenes The Law â€“ Atiku Campaign
SAN FRANCISCO, Jan 08, (THEWILL) – The Atiku Campaign Organisation has said the alleged contribution of N500 million naira each to the Goodluck/Sambo campaign war chest by Governors of Bauchi, Benue, Cross River, Ebonyi, Katsina and Ogun States ‘is a grave violation of the Nigerian Constitution, the Electoral Act 2010 (“Electoral Act”) and other policies and binding electoral codes.’
The alleged author of the ‘thank you for your donation letter’, Dr Akilu Sani Indabawa, Special Adviser (Political Matters), has denied he wrote the letter. Some of the state Governors mentioned have also debunked the claim.
The Atiku Abubakar Campaign Orgnaisation however in a statement said ‘the contribution gives the Goodluck Jonathan Campaign an unfair and illegal advantage and edge over other aspirants who are using their private resources for the conduct of their campaigns.’
The campaign said: ‘Section 221 of the 1999 Constitution prohibits a State Government from contributing to the election expenses of any candidate or aspirant. State resources cannot be used to fund individual aspirations.
‘The Electoral Act in Section 91 provides unequivocally that the maximum election expenses to be incurred by a presidential candidate shall be N1 billion. By raking in the sum of N3 billion from six states only, the funds available to the Goodluck Jonathan Campaign Organisation are clearly in excess of the approved financial ceiling. ‘Deploying resources in excess of the N1 billion mark will clearly violate section 91 (2) and (10) of the Electoral Act. Section 91 (10) of the Electoral Act prescribes penalties for contravention of the law. Essentially, President Jonathan appears prima facie to be knowingly acting in contravention of a law which he assented to late last year. In presidential elections, the candidate who contravenes the law would be guilty of an offence and liable to a maximum fine of N1 million or imprisonment for 12 months or both in accordance with section 91 (10) of the Electoral Act.
‘The Code of Conduct for Political Parties and Elections requires the separation of government business from that of political parties and candidates and their campaign organisations. It is unfortunate that resources of these six states have been deployed, albeit illegally to the campaign of the incumbent against the spirit and letter of this Code of Conduct. The “donations” cannot qualify as a legitimate source of funding the campaign of an aspirant. ‘Also, the Governors acted in violation of Section 91 (9) which limits individual donations and contributions to a maximum of N1 million. The Governors by knowingly acting in contravention of the Electoral Act shall be liable to a maximum fine of N500,000 or 9 months imprisonment or both.
‘Nigerians need to know if these monies belong to the Governors or the State Governments. If the monies belong to the State Government, were they appropriated in the respective State’s 2010 or 2011 Appropriation Laws as funds to be spent on Jonathan’s presidential campaign? If the answer is in the negative, then the Governors should tell Nigerians, particularly indigenes of their state where they got the money from. ‘Spending without appropriation is clearly an original sin against the 1999 Constitution. If the answer is in the positive, then we need proof from the Governors through the presentation of their respective Appropriation Laws. Even if these sums were appropriated for the said purpose, such appropriation would be ultra vires the powers of the state legislature and the Governor who assented to the law. Such appropriation is not within the contemplation of Section 81 of the 1999 Constitution. This is based on the fundamental aphorism that the legislature cannot appropriate funds for an illegal purpose. If the Governors claim that the money is from their private purse, Nigerians demand to see their asset declaration forms and how much tax they have paid to the Inland Revenue in the last couple of years to justify such huge donation.
‘Incidentally, these states are impoverished with decaying infrastructure and inability to meet the time bound Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Deploying such a mind-boggling sum to a presidential campaign will clearly be a misplacement of priorities, an affront on the poor citizens and residents of the state and a call for the citizens to demand increased transparency and accountability from their governments.
‘This development is clearly a litmus test for the Attahiru Jega-led Independent National Electoral Commission which, has promised that it would not be business as usual. INEC should use its constitutional and statutory powers to demand for a refund of these monies to the respective states from the Jonathan Campaign Organization. It is also a test for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission. Nigerians await their response to this monumental scandal. Considering that there were accessories before and after the fact of the “donation” and collection of these monies, the authorities can start from prosecution of the officers who asked for the monies in the name of the aspirant, those who received on behalf of the aspirant and those who gave on behalf of the states. Even if the President and Governors have immunity from suit and legal process, the facts of the matter should be established pending when they leave office.
‘The mere denial of Dr Akilu Sani Indabawa, Special Adviser (Political Matters) to the President who is implicated in this transaction, cannot controvert such weighty affirmation of facts that amounts to invidious violations of the law. A general denial which does not speak to the facts of the case and which is in the nature of a general traverse in law, cannot controvert specific factual averments.
‘A President who promises free and fair elections while undermining the basis of such credible polls through deliberate violations of the law should not be trusted to keep his words. Even if the President argues that he is not yet a candidate at the elections, front loading expenditure in excess of the limitation is clearly not the way to guarantee free and fair polls. The Abubakar Atiku Campaign demands equality before the law and equal protection of the law in matters of funding of presidential campaigns. No Campaign Organisation should be allowed to operate above the law. Good things can only happen when aspirants play by the rules,’ the campaign added.