By Lawrence Olaoye
President Muhammaduh Buhari has called on the Judiciary as well as security agencies in the country to tackle the menace of financial corruption in the nation’s electoral system.
Buhari, in his remarks at the National Democracy Day Anti-corruption Summit organized by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) yesterday in Abuja, also called for global alliance against sleaze.
According to the President, the nation’s experience at the just concluded general elections was characterized by corrupting influence of money on party politics and electioneering processes.
He said “This unwholesome practice has dire consequences on our nations, in subverting the exercise of free choice by voters, elevated corrupt and unprincipled individuals to positions of leadership and entrenching the structures of democracy devoid of accountability.
“Electoral spending manifests in different forms and so should the approaches to curb it. That is the way to de-commercialize the political process so that true democracy can survive and thrive.
“Of course, we have sufficient legal framework in place in Nigeria to combat reckless electoral spending. The provision of Section 90 of the Electoral Act, 2010 (As Amended) explicitly puts a cap on the amount candidates for different political offices must expend on elections, failing which they are violating the law.
Of greater significance is the provision of section 88 of the Act which prohibits a political party in Nigeria from ‘possessing any fund outside or retaining funds or other assets remitted to it from outside Nigeria’.
The philosophical underpinning of the above provisions and other related provisions of the Act is to prevent desperate politicians from buying their ways into political offices at the expense of low – spending law-abiding individuals.
In this connection, I urge all law enforcement agencies and the Judiciary in Nigeria, and across Africa, to tackle financial
corruption in our political systems.
Uncontrolled electoral spending and voter inducement by politicians must be combated if we want to consolidate true democracy and good governance.”
He reminded the participants, including the Rwandan’s President, Paul Kigame, that political corruption was merely an extension of larger corruption the the wider society.
Buhari stressed that his administration is still focused on his three point agenda with which he campaigned for his second term which include Security, economic improvement and fight against corruption.
According to him, his government has begun to take stock of its achievements in the area of fight against corruption with a view to strengthening the capacity of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and other anti-corruption agencies by providing additional material, organisational and logistical support;
Close existing legislative loopholes, facilitate collaboration with the judiciary, and strengthen the criminal justice system; enforce effective asset declaration by public office holders and ensure sanctions by professional bodies against lawyers, bankers, brokers, public officials, and other individuals facilitating corrupt practices and enforce comprehensive support and protection to whistle blowers, witnesses and victims of corruption.
He added that the government would also adopt and formulate the policy of ‘naming and shaming’ all those who engage in corrupt practices while encouraging and honouring those who do not; educate, mobilise and encourage Nigerians at the grassroots level to take ownership of the fight against corruption and press for a crackdown on safe havens for corrupt assets, abolishing of bank secrecy jurisdictions and tax havens on the continent and beyond.
He added that he would continue to insist on the unconditional return of looted assets kept abroad and further strengthen international cooperation through information and mutual legal assistance.