The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has launched a discreet investigation into the finances of the 18 political parties in the country and their presidential aspirants. This followed the humongous fees paid for expression of interest and nomination forms by aspirants vying for various elective offices in the parties.
The anti-graft agency has, therefore, asked the Independent National Electoral Commission to furnish it with the bank accounts and other financial details of the political parties.
It also asked the managing directors of Access Bank and Polaris Bank to provide the details of the 14 accounts operated by the All Progressives Congress and the Peoples Democratic Party and another organisation believed to be connected to the opposition party.
While the ruling APC sold its presidential forms for N100m, the main opposition party pegged its forms at N40m.In addition, the APC governorship aspirants paid N50m, while persons who declared for the Senate, House of Representatives and state Houses of Assembly paid N20m, N10m and N2m, respectively for their nomination and expression of interest forms.
On the other hand, the PDP sold its governorship forms for N21m; Senate, N3.5m; House of Representatives, N2.5m; and state Houses of Assembly, N600,000.
While the other parties charged lesser amounts for their forms, the exorbitant nomination fees charged by the two dominant parties angered many Nigerians with Transparency International describing the development as a form of money laundering.
The EFCC Chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa, last week hinted on a Channels Television’s programme, Politics Today, that the commission would monitor campaign finances, including the legitimacy of the funds used to purchase nomination forms ahead of the 2023 general elections.
Bawa said the commission would be working with INEC and other election-related organisations to track the sources of the money spent on the purchase of nomination forms.
He noted, “When it comes to the issue of monitoring election funds as well as candidates’ funds that has to do with the work of INEC in this regard. But, of course, we are working hand in glove with INEC and other related agencies in that field to ensure that we follow the money.
“We want to know the source, whether it is legitimate or illegitimate, because that is what concerns us.”
Findings by Saturday Punch, however, indicated that the agency had begun a forensic investigation and tracking of the finances of the political organisations and interest groups.
The EFCC, in a letter to the INEC Chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, dated May 9, 2022, signed by its Director of Operations, Michael Wetkas, on behalf of the chairman, demanded a list of all political parties, their designated bank accounts and any other information that could aid its investigation.
The letter, with reference number CB.3383/EFCC/HOPS/HQ/VOL.1/28, titled, ‘Investigation activities’, read, “The commission is conducting an inquiry in which the need to obtain certain information from your commission is imperative. In view of the foregoing, you are requested to kindly avail the following information: list of all registered political parties; list of designated accounts submitted by the political parties to your commission; any other information that may assist the commission in its investigation.
“This request is made pursuant to sections 38(1) and (2) of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (Establishment) Act, 2004. While thanking you immensely for your continuous cooperation and collaboration, please accept the assurances of the chairman’s esteemed regards.”
The EFCC in another letter, also signed by the Head of Operations, informed the managing directors of Access Bank and Polaris Bank in Abuja that it was investigating 14 accounts of the two dominant parties.
According to the letters, the investigation involves accounts 0692988080, 0035644896 and 0044183689 in Access Bank belonging to the APC; an account with number 0054586830 owned by the National Secretariat of the PDP, and three other accounts by Umbrella Trust Limited – 0076600091, 0066988655 and 0068595990.
In Polaris Bank, one of the accounts belongs to the APC (1771444115), while two are operated by the PDP – 1140060876 and 1770319690 – and four by the ‘PDP Fund Raising Dinner’ – 1771643176, 177647521, 177164514 and 1771647507.
Wetkas wrote, “The commission is investigating a case in which the above-mentioned account names and numbers featured.
“In view of the above, you are kindly requested to forward the certified true copies of the following: Account opening packages/mandate cards; statement of account from January 2021 to date (hard and soft copies). The soft copy should be copied to excel format and forwarded to email@example.com.”
The letter also requested the certificate of identification pursuant to Section 84(4) of the Evidence Act, 2011. (The certifying officer should include his full name, designation, signature and date on each page). The commission also requested the banks to furnish it with any other relevant information that could assist the investigation.