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The Socio-economic Rights and Accountability (SERAP) project has sent an open letter to Professor Mahmood Yakubu, Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), urging him to immediately, thoroughly and effectively investigate the allegations of Senate President Bukola Saraki between N200m and N400m in all states except the six southwestern states, to influence the outcome of the 2015 elections to the All Progressive Congress (APC). "

The organization also urged INEC to "investigate the causes of other cases of apparently unexplained campaign funding and contributions to the 2015 elections by politicians and supporters of the two main political parties, the APC and the People's Democratic Party (PDP).

SERAP called on INEC to cooperate in the investigation with the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related crimes (ICPC) and the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC).

A statement by Ms. Bamisope Adeyanju, senior legal advisor to SERAP on Sunday, referred to the audio recording attributed to a meeting between Saraki and a few loyalists. The Senate President stated that he had spent billions of Naira as an investment for the 2015 APC presidential campaign in 30 states of the Federation.

In a letter dated November 17, 2018, signed by its chief legal advisor Bamisope Adeyanju, SERAP said: "The claim that a politician spent billions of naira on elections in several states to support a political party when not thoroughly, and transparently investigated and prosecuted will undermine public confidence in the country's democracy. It also risks distorting electoral processes and reversing the gains of democratic processes and electoral processes that have been taking place since the return of democracy in 1999.

"If these expenditures are continued, this may influence post-election policy and unduly influence the decisions of the country's elected representatives, who most likely consider their contribution to the political party campaign as an" investment "and thus seek to generate returns, alleged investment, electoral success to reach for her party.

"Exploring the sources of these expenditures would increase the transparency and accountability of electoral campaign spending and contributions, which is important to curb abuse and mismanagement of Nigeria's resources, help offset political competition, strengthen the integrity of public officials and build trust to restore citizens to the political system integrity as well as ensuring that electoral processes and elected officials are not hampered by uncontrolled and unreasonable campaign funding.

The letter copied Ibrahim Magu, incumbent EFCC chairman; Dr. Musa Usman Abubakar, Acting Chairman of the ICPC, and Professor Itse Sagay, Chairman of the Presidential Committee on Anti-Corruption (PACAC).

The letter goes on to state that "Unexplained and unregulated spending to influence the outcome of elections can distort electoral competition and lead to the arrest of the state by wealthy politicians and individuals.

"SERAP urges you to prosecute any person suspected of involvement in and / or participating in the allegedly inexplicable campaign spending, if there is adequate and sufficiently permissible evidence of violations of international norms and national laws , We request that you take action within 14 days of receiving and / or publishing this letter, otherwise SERAP will take legal action to force you and INEC to fulfill your constitutional and legal responsibilities in the public interest. "

"Unexplained and unregulated spending on election campaigns would encourage politicians to divert public funds for political purposes rather than ensuring and managing critical spending on the country's socio-economic development, including improving access to public services such as electricity, health, water and energy education ,

"Campaign finance, such as those allegedly disclosed by the Senate President, undermines public confidence in politics and poses a serious risk of corruption by blurring the line between state and party policies and promoting the use of national resources to finance elections. These enormous expenses of an individual can even be converted into a money laundering channel.

"SERAP urges you to publicize policy and political parties' caps on campaign spending and contributions, and to insist that all political parties and politicians disclose the sources of their spending for the 2019 election. The INEC should also oblige all political parties to sign "transparency pacts" that oblige candidates and their sponsors to disclose the identity of the donors and all expenditures and contributions before the 2019 elections on their party website and in the press publish.

SERAP urges you, therefore, to investigate the sources of campaign funding, as well as the contributions of Saraki and other politicians and other individuals to the APC and PDP, if INEC is ever to strengthen the role of money and strengthen the competitive environment for candidates and political parties in the EU 2019 general elections.

"The INEC should conduct the investigation and prosecution in collaboration with the ICPC and EFCC and send a clear message to politicians and political parties that INEC, under their leadership, would not tolerate any violation of the democratic processes and elections prior to the 2019 general election ,

"The SERAP notes that international law has increasingly recognized the importance of transparency in the fight against corruption in party politics and has used the disclosure of political finance as a means of improving corruption. The United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC), which includes Nigeria as a state party, requires states to increase transparency in funding candidates for elected public office and, where appropriate, financing of political parties. Similarly, the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption, which has also been ratified by Nigeria, calls on states to integrate the principle of transparency into the financing of political parties.

In addition, Sections 225 and 226 of the Nigerian Constitution of 1999 (as amended) reinforce INEC 's powers to monitor, investigate and evaluate campaign finances and source and manage one party' s resources, while Section Party provides finance and campaign funding.

"Pursuant to Section 91 (2) and Article 91 (3) of the Electoral Code, a candidate may only receive a maximum of one billion naira or two hundred million naira in an election campaign in presidential and governmental elections. Article 91 (4) of the Electoral Code also states that the maximum cost of electing a candidate for the election of a senator and the House of Representatives is only N40m or only N20m. "

Senate President Bukola Saraki said in an audio clip, while addressing the Democratic Party of Peoples, that he spent between N200m and N400m in all states except the six southwestern states to influence the outcome of the All Progressive Congress elections. Saraki allegedly said, "Of the 36 states, I have paid election money in 30. Some collected N300m while some N400m rallied some N200m. The only states I had nothing to do with were in the southwest. Even on the phone I called and gave the banks instructions. "

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