• VP says it’s high corrupt judges face the music

From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja

According to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, if implemented properly, a cashless policy in Nigeria can reduce the rise in illicit election financing by allowing for the tracking of funds.

In a statement by Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media & Publicity Office of the Vice President on Laolu Akande, Osinbajo in an audience with a delegation of the European Union Election Observation Mission led by Mr Barry Andrews, the Chief Observer, who is also a member of the European Parliament, said the cashless policy is advantageous.

“I think that what we should be looking at is to provide more infrastructure. The cashless thing has been really advantageous and helps with tracking. That sort of infrastructure is useful for more financial inclusion and the more financial inclusion you have, the easier it is to track,” he said.

According to him, “so much money can be spent without it being tracked, under the current election financing practices in the country.”

The vice president acknowledged that cash transactions make it extremely difficult to oversee election finance, but added that additional infrastructure needs to be addressed before the nation can successfully implement a cashless system.

“With cash transactions, it is still difficult to seriously control election financing, the VP observed.

On the issue of electoral offences, Osinbajo noted that there is the Electoral Offences Commission Bill at the National Assembly and “we hope that it will begin a new regime of dealing with electoral offences which would be helpful.”

He emphasised that “by and large, one shouldn’t expect INEC to be the investigator of electoral offences. I think that law enforcement agencies should be responsible for arresting and prosecuting offenders, state by state.

Related News

“Electoral offences are always seen through a political prism; people will always feel that they are being prosecuted because they belong to a certain party.

“What is more important is that we have to find a system where the police could have a special unit for offences during the course of elections. The Federal High Courts could also have a special jurisdiction to deal with offences and not extend beyond the Federal High Courts.”

Regarding the function of the judiciary, the Vice President emphasized the need for the National Judicial Council to conduct closer inspections of tribunals and their verdicts.

He disclosed that discussions have been had in the past concerning malfeasance on the part of some judges and those found guilty should be brought to the fore.

“There should be sanctions and that way, we would be able to clean up and correct some of the problems,” Osinbajo declared.

In his own remarks, Andrews mentioned that the Observer Mission would be monitoring the elections coming up next month and hoped for a peaceful and fair electoral process.

According to him, this is the 7th time the Independent National Electoral Commission is inviting the EU Mission to monitor the elections, adding that the team has been in the country since 11th January and would be here till the end of March 2023.

Other members of the delegation include Ms Samuela Isopi, Ambassador, EU Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS and Mr Thomas Boserup, Deputy Chief Observer, EU Election Observation Mission.