On Sunday morning, the social media was awash with news that Nigeria’s Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami SAN stated that “any Nigerian who lives abroad, funding the campaign of Peter Obi shall be arrested.”
All snippets of the AGFs statement seen by Investogist emanated from a Facebook Post by Orbitnews on its Facebook Page. All the statement was in quote and did not give information on the day, time or place/event when the AGF made the statement.
The objective of this writer however is not to confirm or dispute the statement attributed to the AGF, but to look at the the substance of the news post.
Does a Nigerian living in Diaspora commit an offence when he or she make a financial donation to the Peter Obi Campaign?
The Nigeria Electoral Act 2022 made mention of “offences in relation to finances of a political party in section 85.
This section of the electoral act states 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.
Before one looks at the provisions of section 225 of the 1999 constitution of Nigeria as amended referenced in the section of the Electoral Act 2022 above, it is important to state provisions of 221, as the writer finds it relevant to the discuss of the day.
Section 221: No association, other than a political party, shall canvass for votes for any candidate at any election or contribute to the funds of any political party or to the election expenses of any candidate at an election.
Section 225 of Nigeria’s Constitution of 1999 states the following;
- Every political party shall, at such times and in such manner as the independent National Electoral Commission and publish a statement of its assets and liabilities.
- 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 twenty-one days of its receipt with such information as the Commission may require.
- The Commission shall have power to give directions to political parties regarding the books or records of financial transactions which they shall keep and, to examine all such books and records.
- The powers conferred on the Commission under subsection (4) of this section may be exercised by it through any member of its staff or any person who is an auditor by profession, and who is not a member of a political party.
Section 87 of the Nigeria Electoral Act 2022 talked about limits to contributions to a political party, but its did distinguish between Nigerians in Nigerian and Nigerians in diaspora making donations.
The section tagged “power to limit contribution to a political party states;”
(1) The Commission shall have power to place limitation on the amount of money or other assets which an individual can contribute to a political party or candidate and to demand such information on the amount donated and source of the funds.
(2) Any individual, candidate or political party who exceeds the limit placed by the Commission in subsection (1), commits an offence and is liable on conviction to –
(a) in case of a political party, a fine not more than N10,000,000 and forfeiture of the amount donated; and
(b) in case of an individual, a fine of five times the amount donated in excess of the limit placed by the Commission.
As far as the Electoral Act 2022 is concerned, and as understood by the writer, Nigerians in Diaspora donating to a political party to support the campaign of its candidates commits no offence, except when the amount donated exceeds the allowable limits.
Any offence is only committed by the political party receiving the donations if it fails to adhere Section 225 (3)(a) of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria as amended.
Section 86 (1) of the Nigeria Electoral Act 2022 mandates every political party to submit to INEC a detailed annual statement of assets and liabilities and analysis of its sources of funds and other assets, together with statement of its expenditure including hard and soft copy of its list of members or in such a form as the Commission may require.
This writer joins the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Prof. Mahmood Yakubu in urging political parties and actors to endeavor to study and get used to the provisions of the New Electoral Act passed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari in February 2022.
Nnamdi Maduakor is a Writer, Investor and Entrepreneur