A group under the auspices of Tinubu-Shettima Connect has called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to disqualify the presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Mr. Peter Obi, and his running mate, Ahmed Baba Datti, from the 2023 presidential election.
The group also threatened to commence legal action against Peter Obi, his running mate, and the INEC to prevent LP from participating in the 2023 presidential election for engaging in activities that contravene the Electoral Act.
In a statement signed by its convener, Adebanjo Moyosore, the group said it was not only illegal to raise campaign funds from abroad through unknown sources or unidentified groups but there are also dire consequences and implications for such an act.
The call came just a day after the National Chairman of Labour Party, Julius Abure, at the national headquarters of the party in Abuja, inaugurated an 11-man Diaspora committee to organise fundraising activities among others.
The inauguration also came a day after the party’s Diaspora support groups pledged to crowdfund $150 million and N100 billion for Obi’s campaign.
Mr Adebanjo said the inauguration of a Diaspora committee by the leadership of Labour Party to gather campaign funds from Nigerians in the Diaspora for Obi’s presidential campaign was not only illegal but also criminal.
He said: “It is a matter of great public concern as the country has moved from its old practice with INEC trying to put perfection to the electoral process, unfortunately, a few individuals who think they can get away with deliberate act to undermine the electoral law of the land, have already started even when the campaigns are yet to begin in earnest.
“Section 85 of the Electoral Act has clearly explained this. Also, Section 85 (a) (b) provides that any political party that holds or possesses any fund outside Nigeria in contravention of Section 225 (3) (a) of the Constitution, commits an offence, and shall on conviction forfeit the funds or assets purchased with such funds to the Commission and in addition, may be liable to a fine of at least N5 million;
“Or retains any fund or other asset remitted to it from outside Nigeria in contravention of section 225 (3) (a) of the Constitution commits an offence and shall on conviction forfeit the funds or assets to the Commission and in addition may be liable to a fine of at least N5 million.”
Citing the provision of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), Adebanjo said the law forbids possession of funds by the candidate or political party from overseas.
He said: “Section 225 (2) (3) (4) (a) (b) & (5) of the Constitution provides that every political party shall submit to the Independent National Electoral Commission a detailed annual statement and analysis of its sources of funds and other assets together with a similar statement of its expenditure in such form as the Commission may require.
“No political party shall hold or possess any funds or other assets outside Nigeria; or be entitled to retain any funds or assets remitted or sent to it from outside Nigeria.
“Any funds or other assets remitted or sent to a political party from outside Nigeria shall be paid over or transferred to the Commission within 21 days of its receipt with such information as the Commission may require.”
He expressed fears that the development was worrisome, especially at a time like this when the country’s anti-graft agencies are battling money laundering from criminal syndicates and traffickers.
“We, therefore, call on INEC to act and save our democracy from the hands of some desperate Nigerians,” he said.
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