Posted by Omololu Ogunmade, Onyebuchi Ezigbo, Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja and Segun James, Lagos | 7 September 2018 | 1,023 times
Civil society groups and opposition parties were united Thursday in asking President Muhammadu Buhari to reject the N45.5million All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential nomination forms bought for him by a shadowy group, Nigeria Consolidation Ambassadors Network (NCAN), on Wednesday.
The groups, including Centre for Transparency Advocacy, Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) and Afenifere as well as the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and African Democratic Congress (ADC), said the NCAN gesture was a violation of S91(9) of Electoral Act 2010 as amended and asked the president to reject it.
The National Coordinator of NCAN, Mr. Sanusi Musa, had on Wednesday presented a cheque of N45.5million at the APC national secretariat for the purchase of expression of interest (N5million) and nomination (N40million) forms on behalf of Buhari.
He said they did it to assist the president, who had earlier complained that the forms were too exorbitant for him to buy as they were way above his salary.
But the gesture has been widely criticised as unlawful with many critics asking the president to turn down the offer.
The PDP, for instance, said if Buhari proceeds to accept the offer, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) should apply the sanction stipulated in S91 (10) (a) of the electoral law.
“The PDP urges the INEC to note that the purchase of the N45 million form by the group directly violates section 91 (9) of the Electoral Act, which provides that “no individual or other entity shall donate more than One million naira (N1,000,000) to any candidate,” the party said in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan.
According to it, “Since President Buhari has not publicly disowned the purchase of the form by the group, the PDP charges INEC to, within the next 24 hours, hold him culpable and make him face the appropriate sanctions for the violation of electoral laws.”
Saying there is a world of difference between an aspirant and a candidate, the APC Thursday disagreed that there had been any constitutional or legal infraction by the action of NCAN.
In its reply to the barrage of criticisms that trailed the purchase of forms for the president by the shadowy group, the ruling party said as far as it was concerned, there has been no contravention of the electoral law.
In a statement by its acting National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Yekini Nabene, made available to THISDAY last night, APC said that it would amount to rushing to quick conclusion based on erroneous legal grounds for anyone to fault the group.
APC said, “Aside from the fact that there is a world of difference between an aspirant and a candidate in the eyes of the law, there has been no contravention of the Electoral Act 2010 (As Amended)”.
In its reaction, the pan-Yoruba socio-cultural organisation, Afenifere, said the president should shun the forms, arguing that his claim that he could not afford them was hypocritical, adding that it was a rehash of similar attitude before the 2015 election.
The group’s spokesman, Mr. Yinka Odumakin, warned that Buhari might be sued by a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) for violating the Electoral Act.
Although Odumakin did not say which NGO would sue the president, he stressed that it is typical of the Buhari’s administration to take Nigerians for granted.
Odumakin recalled that Buhari said he took a loan to buy his 2015 nomination form, but he is yet to inform the nation if he has indeed finished paying the loan.
He said that the action of the president is contrary to the provision of Electoral Act 2010 as amended, which pegs individual and group contributions to election expenses of a candidate to N1million.
The National Publicity Secretary of PANDEF, Chief Anabs Sara-Igbe, said the organisation is a pressure group that does not dabble into partisan politics except that which has to do with issues relating to restructuring the country, fiscal federalism and the Niger Delta.
Sara-Igbe, however, said that if the president has violated the laws, those who feel aggrieved have the right to seek redress in the court of law.
“They should approach the court for interpretation of the Electoral Act, if they feel aggrieved; but they are also free to advise the president to do the needful. Everybody is free to advise the president,” he said.
The ADC was similarly inclined yesterday, calling on the president to reject the forms, challenging him to question the source of the money used in buying the forms.
It said Buhari would make a mockery of his anti-corruption war and his ‘Mr. Integrity’ posture if he failed to investigate the source of the fund.
•Excerpted from a THISDAY report
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