A group under the auspices of Tinubu-Shettima Connect, has called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to, without delay, disqualify the presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Mr. Peter Obi, and his running mate, Yusuf Datti Baba-Ahmed, from the 2023 presidential election.
The group has also threatened to commence legal action, intending to join Peter Obi, his running mate and INEC, to prevent Labour Party from participating in the 2023 presidential election for engaging in activities that contravene the Electoral Act 2022.
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 is also dire consequences and implications for such act.
This comes on the heels of the inauguration of an 11-man Diaspora Committee to organise fund-raising activities, among others, by the National Chairman of Labour Party, Bar. Julius Abure, at the national headquarters of the party in Abuja.
The Inauguration also came a day after the party’s diaspora support groups pledged to crowdfund $150m, N100bn for Obi’s campaign.
Mr Moyosore said the inauguration of a diaspora committee by the leadership of Labour Party to gather campaign funds from Nigerians in diaspora for Obi’s presidential campaign was not only illegal but also criminal.
He said it was “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 delibrate act to undermine the electoral law of the land, have already started making sinister moves 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:
“(a) 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 N5,000,000; or
“(b) 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 N5,000,000.”
Also, citing a 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:
“225(2) 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.
“225(3) No political party shall –
“(a) hold or possess any funds or other assets outside Nigeria; or
“(b) be entitled to retain any funds or assets remitted or sent to it from outside Nigeria.
” 225(4) 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 twenty-one days of its receipt with such information as the Commission may require.”
He noted that the development was worrisome, especially at a time like this when the country’s anti-graft agencies were battling with 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 added.