The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has received cash from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for election logistics, Daily Trust reports.
A national Commissioner of INEC disclosed this to Daily Trust on Thursday night.
There had been apprehension over the inability of INEC to get cash from the CBN even though its budget is a first-line charge. This was a result of the cashless policy introduced by the CBN with the support of the federal government.
INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmud Yakubu, during a visit to CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele said they needed cash rather than bank transfers to sort out many of their activities.
The commission had explained that even though it does most of its payments through online transfers, some specific services have to be paid for in cash.
He said some of the service providers, especially transporters, are required to be paid in cash and besides, experience has shown that emergency situations do arise on Election Day, which could demand the use of cash by the commission.
Many observers had condemned the delay in releasing the funds considering that there are many hard-to-reach areas in many of the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), hence the need for early preparation, deployment of equipment and people that would officiate the election.
There was however a sigh of relief yesterday when some INEC officials confirmed that the monies have been released by the CBN.
RECs to Take Monies in CBN Branches
The INEC national commissioner, who spoke in confidence, said branch controllers of the CBN have been instructed to disburse the funds to INEC offices in the states.
“The issue of the cash crunch has been resolved and our resident electoral commissioners have started collecting the money,” he said.
“Before they got the clearance to have access to the money, we earlier sent the requests to CBN based on the demands of each state. What the REC in each state requires is different depending on the topography of their states and it is based on this that the funds were approved.”
He said the commission had asked security operatives to work closely with INEC in order to ensure a hitch-free disbursement from the commission’s state headquarters to the LGAs.
Confirming the release of the funds, the Oyo State REC, Dr Adeniran Rahmon Tella, yesterday, told journalists at a news conference that the commission had secured CBN to offset the payment of ad-hoc staff.
EFCC, ICPC to Monitor Spending
But some credible sources told the Daily Trust yesterday that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), among other anti-graft and security agencies, would monitor the utilisation of the election cash disbursement to INEC for this year’s general elections.
Top government officials within and outside the commission told Daily Trust that the monitoring was to ensure the success of the February 25 and March 11 elections.
Another official who confirmed that the anti-graft agencies would monitor the disbursement of the cash said that INEC was not disturbed by such a move, as it was informed that this was to curtail possible diversion of such funds for other purposes other than the elections.
The official also said that the disbursement should not be seen as being late as it was a strategy to prevent diversion, especially since there is a cash crunch in the country.
CBN Usurping INEC’s Independence – Falana
A human rights lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN) has criticised the moves by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to use anti-corruption agencies to monitor the disbursement of funds meant for INEC.
Speaking with Daily Trust yesterday, Falana called on INEC to rise and defend its independence as the constitution has given it the mandate to make guidelines on the conduct of elections.
“It is a litany of illegalities; the Central Bank has printed monies without appropriation by the National Assembly; they have spent billions without appropriation by the National Assembly either in their 2022 or 2023 budget.
“Having usurped the powers of INEC, the simple fact is that INEC is going to manage to shop for logistics for the election, that is totally illegal,” he said.
However, Professor Paul Ananaba (SAN) said it could not constitute a breach of INEC’s independence since the electoral commission is not required to seek approval of CBN or some oversight on their funds, but the monitoring.
“If the anti-corruption agencies are not monitoring the expenditure, it means they are not doing their work,” he said.
INEC Encouraged by Police Assurance – Yakubu
Meanwhile INEC Chairman, Prof Yakubu yesterday said that the assurance of safety by the Nigerian Police Force is so far encouraging for the smooth conduct of the polls.
The INEC chairman who spoke during a meeting of the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES), held at INEC headquarters on Tuesday in Abuja, said security agencies will not only protect the commission’s staff and facilities, but the will extend to voters, election observers, journalists and others involved in the electoral process.
“The Nigerian police, which is the lead agency in election security, is already familiar with the delimitation details on the basis of which security personnel are deployed for elections. And since they as the lead agency are also coordinating with other security agencies, I take it that other security agencies are also aware of the delimitation details.
“The commission is encouraged by the assurances of security in all locations, while elections and electoral activities will be conducted. Importantly, the commission is aware that security agencies are going to protect not only our officials and facilities, but also accredited observers, journalists, service providers, and above all the voters themselves, Yakubu said.
In his remarks, the National Security Adviser (NSA), Babagana Monguno, assured Nigerians of safe, free, fair and credible elections. Monguno, represented by Sanusi Galadima, a director in his office, noted that there have been rising protests as some Nigerians are exploiting the current situation in the country.
He, however, said that presidential candidates must seek demonstration of peace.
“We will ensure a peaceful transition of power to the democratically elected candidate,” he said.