In a bid to curb vote buying in next year’s general election, the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) has said all government accounts would be blocked early January, leaving only money enough for payment of workers’ salaries and for day-to-day running of ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs).
Also, the Nigeria police said concerted efforts were being made by its personnel to ensure that the use of money is not allowed to influence the 2023 general election or at least ensure that this menace is brought to the barest minimum. Heads of anti-corruption agencies, at a one-day stakeholders’ summit in Abuja on Monday, decried the effects of vote buying on the nation’s elections.
The summit which was organised by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), in conjunction with the Nigeria Police Force (NPF), the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), and the Advertising Practitioners Regulations Council of Nigeria (APRCON), was to address the influence of money on the 2023 general election.
Director General of the NFIU Modibbo Turkur, said that most people who engage in vote buying do so because of free funds at their disposal.
Turkur said NFIU will activate its flag up action on all politicians as well as accounts of political parties. “With the activation and flag up of the accounts, any withdrawals will be alerted and the report will be sent to the relevant agencies for action. “We don’t arrest, but be rest assured that we will monitor all withdrawals of huge amounts of funds that are done within the period of the elections.
“We will also activate flagging off the accounts of the candidates of the political parties and others under our radar. “We will also strengthen the policy of the CBN, and with the non-cash banking economy, there would be no going on our flag up on cash withdrawals and the early warning system,” the DG assured.
Tukur further stated that the NFIU is at the moment, investigating over 15, 000 transactions of government accounts. Inspector General of Police, Usma Alkali Baba, stated that the Nigeria police as the lead agency in electoral security management will deploy X-squad, intelligence officers and investigators to the field to ensure that politicians moving on election days with physical cash for vote buying were apprehended and dealt with according to the provisions of the law.
The IGP, who was represented by Assistant Inspector General (AIGOperations) Bala Ciroma, disclosed that the force had deployed intelligence officers who would get “embedded in the crowd” during political rallies to identify with precision persons encouraging or perpetrating violence.
The EFCC Chairman Abdulrasheed Bawa, called for full disclosure of all funds meant for political campaigns by the political parties. Bawa, who was represented by his Chief of Staff, Hadiza Gamawa, reminded politicians that the Electoral Act provides for a 14 years jail term for breach of any of the provisions of the Act. INEC Chairman Prof. Mahmood Yakubu decried the negative effect of vote buying on the electoral process.