The Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof. Yakubu Mahmood, has said the commission will investigate possible violation of campaign finance laws by the Federal Government through its TraderMoni scheme.
He stated that the electoral body had a mechanism for tracking campaign finance violations by candidates and their parties, adding that INEC would study public comments on the scheme and investigate the Federal Government for possible violation of the campaign finance laws.
Mahmood said this in response to questions from journalists on Thursday after his presentation on the forthcoming polls at a session of the Federal Road Safety Corps Zonal Commanders at the FRSC headquarters, Abuja, presided over by the Corps Marshal, Dr Boboye Oyeyemi.
Many Nigerians and corporate bodies, including a civil society organisation, Transparency International, had described the TraderMoni scheme, through which the Federal Government gives N10,000 to traders and artisans, as a form of vote-buying.
The INEC boss initially declined to comment on the issue, saying his commission would not like to “join in this kind of discussion.”
He, however, responded after he was asked if his commission was not worried about the positions of Nigerians on the scheme.
Mahmoud stated, “This is not a matter for INEC to comment on and I would not comment on that basis. There are so many things people say of partisan nature and INEC doesn’t join in this kind of discussion.
“As far as I’m concerned, we are talking about things happening at the polling units. Yes, we have a mechanism for tracking campaign finance, but this doesn’t fall under campaign finance in terms of expenditure by candidates and parties.
“But I would study all the comments we have heard from people on that particular scheme and see if it’s related to the kind of things that we should be tracking and the Independent National Electoral Commission would track accordingly.”
Mahmood had earlier told the FRSC boss, Oyeyemi, that the commission was ready for the elections, but needed the assistance of the corps in certain areas.
He made 10 requests in the areas of logistics and movement of electoral materials on election day, adding that he needed the corps personnel to strictly enforce restriction of movement.
Mahmood also sought the FRSC assistance in screening vehicle drivers that would transport electoral materials to the polling units, adding that the corps should track the vehicles to ensure the safety of the materials.