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Grant: Party leaders may face trial • Four parties to lose registration

Posted by Sam Akpe, Tony Amokeodo and Olaolu Oladipo on 2005/07/14 | Views: 331 |

Grant: Party leaders may face trial • Four parties to lose registration


Leaders of the nations 30 political parties found to have diverted party grants may be prosecuted if a proposal by the Independent National Electoral Commission to the National Assembly sails through.

Leaders of the nations 30 political parties found to have diverted party grants may be prosecuted if a proposal by the Independent National Electoral Commission to the National Assembly sails through.

Although a highly dependable source in INEC who made this known to our correspondent on Thursday did not disclose when the proposal was sent to the Assembly, he said that party leaders would account for the grants.

The source said only such drastic actions would ensure financial discipline in the parties.

Alleging that most of the parties and their leaders were not desirous of obeying the provisions of the Constitution, he added that four of the parties would soon lose their certificates of registration for contravening some provisions of the 1999 Constitution.

The INEC has already concluded plans to ensure that the affected parties – the Liberal Democratic Party; the National Mass Movement of Nigeria; the National Action Council; and the Green Party of Nigeria – do not receive any further appropriation from the National Assembly as stated in the constitution.

Our correspondent learnt that INEC would soon forward the details of their offences to the National Assembly.

The National Assembly, said the source, was also expected to look into the cases of parties with improper account records and those that refused to submit their financial records or statements of accounts to INEC for auditing as required by the constitution.

The LDP; NMMN; NAC; and GPN were alleged to be operating without headquarters in Abuja, contrary to Section 222 (f) of the Constitution, which states that, “No association by whatever name called shall function as a political party, unless…the headquarters of the association is situated in the Federal Capital Territory.”

The parties were also said to have acted contrary to the provisions of the Electoral Act 2002, on the establishment of their national headquarters in Abuja.

A document made exclusively available to our correspondent in Abuja showed that the NMMN has its head office in Lagos.

The LDP’s office was reportedly shut down in 2003, a few months after it came into existence. The party was said to have operated without any contact address.

The document states, “The party actually carries out its national operations in Lagos at 5 Moji Obasanjo Close, Valley Estate, Dopemu Agege, which is an extension of the national chairman’s residence.

“However, the party claims to have two national headquarter offices in Abuja and Lagos.

“Similarly, from the list of party offices submitted to the (commission) many of them are located in garages, motor parks and market places; most of the these offices do not carry any traceable addresses.”

For the NAC, the document stated that the party office was not found at its registered office at 2A Niger Street, FCT.

It stated further, “All efforts to trace the new address of the office of the party was not successful.

“For reasons of non-availability of party officials or offices, opinion as to whether the party maintained books of account in accordance with statutory provisions during the year under review, could not be expressed.”

The GPN was cited as having abandoned its registered office at 25 Niamey Street, Wuse, Zone 2 Abuja and that “all efforts made to trace the party’s new address did not yield any results.”

The document added, “The Green Party of Nigeria may no more be existing after all.”

When contacted, the GPN leader, Mr. Olisa Agbakoba (SAN), said the party was very much in existence.

Agbakoba said, “We have nothing to hide. It is only those who are corrupt and afraid of prosecution that can be afraid of the INEC report. We have the integrity and the name to protect. I must tell you that we are above board and we have sustained the attitude up till now and in future.

“Our party is very much on ground. We have a functional office in Abuja and we have councillors in the local governments areas of Delta and Enugu states.

“Besides, we also have an office in Lagos. You must appreciate the fact that we don’t have the kind of funds the ruling party, the Peoples Democratic Party, can throw about.”

The National Chairman, NAC, Chief Olapade Agoro, also debunked the claim by the INEC that his party does not have an office in Abuja.

Agoro accused INEC of not wanting to move out of the comfort of Abuja metropolis to verify claims made by parties.

He said that his party has its office on Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria road in Gwagwalada, FCT.

He said two other parties have offices in the area, adding that he sent five letters to INEC on the new address of his party without a reply.

Efforts by our correspondents around 9pm to speak with the leader of the NMMN, Mrs. Moji Obasango and her LDP counterpart, Alhaji U.T. Turaki, proved abortive.

The INEC Chairman, Prof. Maurice Iwu, on Friday told newsmen in Lagos that the commission was not going to change the rules on parties having national outlook with their headquarters in Abuja.

Rather, Iwu said the commission was going to go tough on parties that violate the constitution.

He said that the commission was, more than ever, prepared to enforce all laws governing the running of political parties.

He also promised to bring the full weight of the law to bear on parties that do not have proper accounts, adding that there was still time for those contravening the laws to change their ways.

He expressed surprise that some of the parties could not give detailed accounts of how they spent monies they ought to keep in trust for their members.

He, however, said the commission had concluded arrangements for the training of the treasurers and internal auditors of the parties on the modalities for records keeping.

The Punch, Friday, July 15, 2005

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Fay(Katy, Texas, US)says...

Actually translates to bravehearted.