•We won’t interfere in Nigeria’s elections –EU

From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye and Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja

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

 He stated this in a meeting with a delegation of European Union (EU) Election Observation Mission led by Mr. Barry Andrews, the Chief Observer, who is also a member of the European Parliament.

Osinbajo said cashless policy was advantageous and acknowledged that physical cash transactions made it extremely difficult to oversee election finance. 

Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity Office of the Vice President, Laolu Akande in a statement quoted the vice president as saying: “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. So much money can be spent without it being tracked, under the current election financing practices in the country. With cash transactions, it is still difficult to seriously control election financing.” 

On the issue of electoral offences, Osinbajo noted that there was the Electoral Offences Commission Bill at the National Assembly.

“We hope that it will begin a new regime of dealing with electoral offences which would be helpful. 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.

“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.” 

Related News

Regarding the function of the judiciary, the vice president emphasised the need for the National Judicial Council to conduct closer inspections of tribunals and their verdicts.

Meanwhile,  European Union Election Observation Mission to Nigeria (EU EOM), has said it will not interfere in the 2023 general elections in the country.

This is as it said it has dedicated election technology analyst to assess the use of technologies, especially the verification of voters and transmission of results during the 2023 elections. 

 Chief Observer of the EU EOM, Barry Andrews, at a press conference in Abuja, said on election day, there would be 100 EU election observers comprising 40 long-term observers.

Andrews said: “As for interference, it is absolutely against all of the principles of our methodology that we will in anyway, interfere politically with the election debate that is going on. That is absolutely a matter of political parties and for Nigerian citizens.

“Our job here is to access the robust of the election, the process itself and to make sure that it is inclusive and sincere as  possible, that all the technologies are transparent as possible and that we can, in the end, make an inclusion as to the credibility of the election.

“But we will not in anyway make statements that could be perceived as politically interfering. And that is the methodology that has been the case  for many, many years.”

On the use of technology during the elections, Andrews said  the Electoral Act 2022 has introduced new measures aimed at enhancing various aspects of the conduct of elections.