Abuja — Only five political parties have complied with the legal provision mandating them to submit their campaign expenses during the 2015 general election, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) disclosed yesterday.
The commission also said 17 political parties have no office in Abuja,which is also in breach of the conditions for their registration.
Chairman of the commission, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, who stated this at the quarterly consultative meeting with leadership of the country's 46 registered political parties in Abuja further hinted that the fate of 108 political associations seeking registration as parties will be made known in the first week of November.
Varied figures had emerged over the 2015 general election which had been described as the costliest election in the country's history.
Last February, INEC gave an estimate of N1 trillion as what was spent by itself, political parties and candidates for the 2015 elections.
According to the commission's breakdown, while the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) expended N8.74 billion in "traceable" media and other related expenses in the 2015 elections, all the other opposition parties expended N2.91 billion for the same purposes.
Similarly, the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) had after the 2015 polls claimed that the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the PDP spent N11.66bn to finance the 2015 presidential election.
But former President Goodluck Jonathan denied spending N2 trillion for electioneering campaigns for his party, PDP, for the general election.
INEC chairman, Yakubu, yesterday lambasted political parties for violating electoral laws, especially in respect to financing as well as establishment of offices and constitution of their National
Executive Committees (NEC) He said, "We have 46 registered political parties but we have 108 applications from associations for registration as political parties. 17 of these associations have gone very far with the process.
"We want to assure all those who submitted applications to be registered as political parties that the commission will take a definite position on that latest first week of November. Those who qualify will be registered under the law.
"But for those that are already registered as political parties, I want to draw your attention to many things. The constitution is very clear on the processes and procedures for registration and you are required to comply with all the requirements.
"Section 223 of the constitution talks about the validity of the composition of the political parties' NEC. Unfortunately, out of the 46 registered political parties, only 28 parties are in compliance. 18 political parties have not complied.
"Section 222 of the constitution requires political parties to establish offices in the Federal Capital Territory but as we speak today, only 29 political parties are in compliance while 17 political parties have not. So, we have 17 political parties that have no offices in FCT or that their rents have expired which amounts to the same thing of not having an office in the FCT".
Decrying the violation of financial regulations by parties, Yakubu said, "Parties are expected to submit to the Commission their election campaign expenses for the 2015 general elections but as we speak only five political parties are in compliance.
"While 24 other political parties did not comply, the case of 17 parties is understandable because they were registered after the general elections. But for parties that contested the general elections, only five complied".
The chief electoral officer also restated his earlier warning to political parties to avoid early and illegal campaigns.
He said, "We have written to the political parties urging them to inform the Commission if there are issues. But parties as entities must comply with the Constitution and the Electoral Acts, which is actually the basis for their registration and existence.
"Finally, I want to reiterate the appeal I made yesterday to all the political parties that although INEC has fixed a date for the general election, we are yet to release the time table for the election and the law is very clear on when electioneering and campaigns will commence. It remains 90 days to the election and must stop 24 hours to the actual casting of ballot.
"However, we have noticed that some people using the name of some political parties are already in campaign mood. Since there is no provision for any Nigerian to contest election as an independent candidate for now and since every candidate must be sponsored by a political party, we expect everybody to comply with electoral rules.
"It is true that no political party has openly declared campaign for 2019 general elections but the parties owe it a duty to obey the laws of the land. INEC is yet to issue a timetable for the commencement of electioneering campaign and we expect all politicians' parties to comply".
Responding, the chairman of the Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC), Mallam Mohammadu Nalado, reaffirmed the body's commitment to working with INEC to ensure democracy is deepened in Nigeria.
He assured that all the political parties are committed to ensuring the forthcoming Anambra governorship election is conducted in a free, fair and credible environment, even as he implored Nigerians to come out and vote peacefully.
The IPAC chairman used the opportunity to warn individuals and groups that may be having plans to undermine the law in the Anambra governorship election to have a rethink.
Nalado also noted that IPAC is working to complement the voter education efforts of the commission, especially at the grassroots level, adding that a major concern for the body is hate speeches, which he said could undermine the unity of the country and the electoral process.