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Peter Obi’s campaign and diaspora funds: What the the law says

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The campaign team of the presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Peter Obi, is currently making moves to raise funds from Nigerians in the diaspora in order to execute the February 25, 2023, presidential election.

Last Monday, Julius Abure, LP national chairman, inaugurated an 11-member committee to organise the party’s diaspora activities in a bid to ensure the inclusiveness of Nigerians in the diaspora in the presidential campaign of Obi.

Speaking during the inauguration in Abuja, Abure said one of the committee’s terms of reference is to organise fundraising activities for the party.

“Their terms of reference, one, recommend to the national chairman the creation of diaspora chapters. Two, monitor the activities of diaspora chapters and report to the national chairman,” Abure said.

He added that the functions include organising “fundraising activities and donations to the party after liaising with the party”, and facilitating “travel arrangements for party officials and to perform any other functions connected thereto”.

The inauguration of the diaspora committee coincides with the foreign tour of the former Anambra state governor.

In the past few weeks, Obi has been to the United States of America, Canada, London, Rome and Germany to engage with Nigerians and seek their support for the 2023 presidential elections.

In one of his engagements with Nigerians in the diaspora, Obi said if elected president, he would turn Nigeria’s brain drain to gain, adding that the country is yet to fully harness the huge benefits of its citizens living abroad.

As Obi intensifies his international engagements, there have been a series of reactions from Nigerians, particularly in relation to the fundraising efforts of his supporters.

A report by THISDAY indicated that Nigerians in the diaspora have formed committees to create a crowdfunding portal to raise $150 million from Obi’s supporters in the diaspora and N100 billion from those in Nigeria.

APC SUPPORT GROUPS KICK AGAINST DIASPORA CROWDFUNDING

The decision of Obi’s supporters to crowdfund his campaign has generated some controversy, particularly on the legality of the initiative.

READ  Peter Obi joins 2023 presidential race

Tinubu-Shettima Connect, an All Progressives Congress (APC) support group, has asked the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to disqualify Obi from what it described as a “violation of the electoral act”.

The group insinuated that it will file a legal suit against Obi over the development.

Another group, The Progressive Clan, in a statement, kicked against the decision to raise funds from Nigerians in the diaspora, while asking INEC to intervene in the matter.

“To be clear, these acts are an affront to the sacred provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Electoral Act,” the group said.

“They are unlawful and the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) must arrest illegalities immediately to assure Nigerians that the 2023 elections would not be influenced from outside in any form.”

 

THE LAW ON DIASPORA FUNDS

The 1999 constitution (as amended) and the Electoral Act of 2022 have provisions for the role of INEC in the collection of annual statements of political parties, analysis of sources of funds and restrictions on campaign funds.

Section 225 (3)(a) of the 1999 constitution prohibits political parties from having assets or funds in foreign countries.

Section 225 (3) states that: “No political party shall — hold or possess any funds or other assets outside Nigeria; or be entitled to retain any funds or assets remitted or sent to it from outside Nigeria.

“Any funds or other assets remitted or sent to a political party from outside Nigeria shall be paid over or transferred to the commission within twenty-one days of its receipt with such information as the omission may require.”

Section 85 of the Electoral Act 2022 reechoes the provisions of section 225 of the 1999 constitution.

Section 85 states: “Any political party that – (a) holds or possesses any fund outside Nigeria in contravention of section 225 (3) (a) of the Constitution, commits an offence and shall on conviction forfeit the funds or assets purchased with such funds to the Commission and in addition may be liable to a fine of at least 5,000,000; or (b) retains any fund or other asset remitted to it from outside Nigeria in contravention of section 225 (3) (a) of the Constitution commits an offence and shall on conviction forfeit the funds or assets to the Commission and in addition may be liable to a fine of at least N5,000,000.”

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‘OBI — NOT LP — CAN RAISE FUNDS’

Timi Olagunju, a lawyer and policy analyst, said the electoral act does not forbid “receiving” funds from Nigerians in the diaspora, adding that the law specifically used the words “hold” and “possess” instead.

“Nigerians in the diaspora can send funds to individuals (in this case Mr. Obi or anyone who receives it as a gift on his behalf) through any means, for example, Western Union.

“A non-governmental organization, can also receive such and promote activities on behalf of a candidate or party, as there is no statutory provision that prevents Nigerian NGOs from engaging in advocacy or from endorsing candidates for public office,” he said

However, he further clarified that political parties cannot directly receive foreign funds into their domiciliary or any other account, in its name for the purpose of an election, adding that this is a clear breach of the law.

Another legal practitioner, Festus Ogun, in a legal opinion sent to TheCable, said Obi and his presidential campaign team did not violate any extant law in Nigeria.

According to Ogun, it is only political parties that are covered by the provisions of section 225(3)(a)(b) of the 1999 constitution, not political candidates or their campaign organisations.

“In our considered view, 225(3)(a)(b) of the 1999 Constitution is only applicable to political parties and it is not applicable to political candidates or their campaign organizations,” the legal practitioner said.

“It is not a subject of debate that the diaspora donations are said to be made to either Peter Obi and or his campaign organization. The question that follows is whether Peter Obi or his Campaign Organization(s) is a political party envisaged under 225(3)(a)(b) of the 1999 Constitution.

READ  Fr Mbaka eats his words, apologizes to 'stingy' Peter Obi

“Section 318 of the 1999 Constitution gives no definition for a “political party”. Thankfully, Section 152 of the Electoral Act, 2022 defines a “political party” to include “any association of persons whose activities include canvassing for votes in support of a candidate for election under this Act and registered by the commission”.

“We respectfully submit, therefore, that a candidate or his campaign organization(s) cannot be regarded as a political party under our extant electoral jurisprudence.

“Having cleared that, it is safe to say that donations made to Mr. Peter Obi or his campaign organization in furtherance of his presidential campaign cannot be said to be made to a political party as envisaged under 225(3)(a)(b) of the 1999 constitution.

“Neither Mr. Peter Obi nor his campaign organisation is a “political party” and must not be mistaken or confused for Labour Party, a duly registered political party under the law.

“It would have been a different ball game entirely if the donations were made to Labour Party, as a political party. Donations made to political candidates or their campaign teams are not caught under 225(3)(a)(b) of the 1999 constitution and Section 85 of the Electoral Act and are therefore not illegal and unconstitutional.”

Meanwhile, in an Arise Television interview aired on Monday, Paul Ananaba, a senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN), said a political candidate “is not barred from raising funds from the diaspora”.

“If Obi is raising funds from the diaspora as an individual that is correct, but as a political party it is entirely wrong. The law does not define a political party to include the candidate and neither does the definition of the candidate include the political party.

“The Electoral Act limits the amount a presidential candidate can spend on an election campaign to N5 billion.”

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FULL LIST: Osinbajo, Dogara missing as Aregbesola makes Tinubu’s presidential campaign team

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Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo is conspicuously missing as the All Progressives Congress (APC) released the presidential campaign council list of its flagbearer Bola Tinubu ahead of the 2023 election.

James Faleke, secretary, APC presidential campaign council, released the list in Abuja on Friday.

Also missing are Yakubu Dogara, former speaker of the house of representatives, Babachir Lawal, former secretary to the government of the federation, and Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, former minister of state for education.

The duo had distanced themselves from the party’s Muslim-Muslim ticket and the emergence of Tinubu and Kashim Shettima.

On the list, Simon Lalong, governor of Plateau State, retained his position as director-general, while Adams Oshiomhole, former APC chairman and Bayo Onanuga remained deputy director-general (operations) and director of media and publicity, respectively.

Rauf Aregbesola, former Osun governor and minister of interior, also made the list.

The list includes names of serving and former state governors of the party, ministers, senators and other members of the APC.

READ  Peter Obi joins 2023 presidential race

 

SEE FULL LIST:

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It’s in Igbo’s best interest to support Tinubu – Fredrick Nwabufo

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Could Bola Tinubu, presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), be that unifier a sundered Nigeria needs? What are his antecedents as regards respect for diversity and sensitivity to inclusion? Well, as governor of Lagos, Tinubu had a diverse cabinet; in fact, he is reputed to be one of the few governors who appointed non-natives into state cabinets at the time – when it was unsexy to do so.

Tinubu showed his expansiveness as governor of Lagos. And over the years, he has shown an aspect of himself as a Nigerian flag-waver. Tinubu cannot be put on trial for religious or ethnic prejudice. He can be accused of any other character errancy, but not of sectarianism, insularity or dogmatism.

I believe Tinubu’s presidency is the south-east’s best chance at re-centring itself in national politics. At the moment, Tinubu is the only candidate from the south who enjoys plural support across the divide, groups, zones and regions. So, it is only logical that consciences and interests in the south are mobilised behind him.

I thought by now the south-east must have learnt from the perils of political naivety. It is imprudent of a group of Igbo elders under ‘’Igbo Elders Consultative Forum’’ to declare publicly that they are not in support of Tinubu’s presidential bid. This was the same path these elders toed in 2015 against Muhammadu Buhari which resulted in the political blackballing of the zone. I am of the opinion that elders should be temperate and circumspect on matters of this tenor.

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I suggest, they should be fair and equitable in their support for Peter Obi. What is sauce for the goose should be sauce for the gander. Scorched-earth politics will only leave the land barren. They could have elected to be neutral or stay aloof. They could have also deployed tact in managing all political interests without publicly showing preference for any.

The south-east must cast its net wide and consider some possible outcomes. The APC and its presidential candidate are options they must explore. Going all head in in politics is injudicious.

We should be wary of repeating the same mistakes of 2015. We must not let our emotions colour our reality. We must not walk starry-eyed into political Siberia. We must not attempt another hara-kiri.

As I said in a previous column, the Labour Party is not a viable vehicle to ride to victory. It is a rustled-up contraption without deep roots across the country. The south-east regaining its place means it must look beyond a solitary party – that is the Labour Party (LP). It must put itself in the thick of things – at the centre — and play realpolitik. To sit at the table, it must wrest itself from the enchantment of the Labour Party and its candidate. We go all in and throw all in but get nothing out.

READ  I was in London to show Tinubu support after he had surgery –Fayemi

One Igbo leader who seems to be reading the hieroglyphics of the times right is Orji Uzo Kalu. Kalu is playing realpolitik. He understands the art of the deal. Orji Kalu, despite his reputational flaws, could be the politician that would take the south-east out of political Siberia.

He said in a recent interview: “Presidency is not a regional issue. I asked the political parties to zone the presidency to the south-east. When they didn’t do that, and since the presidency is not a regional issue, I had to withdraw. I have no problem with the Igbo man being president, but we have to do it with other Nigerians. If we don’t do it with other Nigerians, it will not work, no matter how popular you are. It’s the president of Nigeria, not the president of Igbo land. But for now, our presidential candidate is Bola Ahmed Tinubu. Tinubu is strategic. He will make his presidency beneficial to the Igbo. The Igbo will be the biggest beneficiaries of Tinubu’s presidency.’’

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I agree, Tinubu’s presidency will be of great benefit to the Igbo. Really, it will be a coup de maître if more Igbo leaders join Orji Kalu in his crusade for Tinubu. Who says the south-east and the south-west cannot work in political consonance?

However, it is important that Tinubu begins now to show the prospects of inclusion and of sensitivity to diversity in his disposition, plans and policy paradigms. It is important he emphasises that there will be no perpetuation of exclusivist proclivities which deepen national strife and insecurity.

Tinubu should reach out to the south-east, traditional rulers, political leaders and everyday citizens with intentions and plans of bringing them into one composite fold where all Nigerians can exist under justice, equity, peace and harmony.

It is in the best interest of the south-east to support Tinubu. I believe Tinubu’s presidency will be for all Nigerians.

By Fredrick Nwabufo, Nwabufo aka Mr OneNigeria is a writer and journalist.

Published by TheCable

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2023: Atiku, Tinubu, Kwankwaso dismiss poll result, say Peter Obi social media president

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The campaign councils of three leading presidential candidates in the 2023 general election have dismissed a recent opinion poll that put the candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Peter Obi, ahead of them.

In the result of the poll conducted and released by ANAP Foundation, on Thursday, Peter Obi was ranked first, beating Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Rabiu Kwankwaso of the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP).

Both Messrs Tinubu and Atiku shared the second position, while Mr Kwankwaso came a distant fourth position in the poll.

In the percentage rating, the LP candidate got 21 per cent while the APC and PDP candidates garnered only 13 per cent each from the poll said to have been conducted across the six geo-political zones in the country.

The researchers did not disclose the methodology and the number of people that participated in the poll.

Speaking on “Politics Today” a programme on Channels Television, on Thursday, the spokespersons of the campaign councils of the NNPP, PDP and APC, took turns to tear the outcome of the poll, saying it is laughable.

Abdulmumin Jubril, the spokesperson of the NNPP presidential campaign council, said the programme gave credence to the poll which should have been ignored.

Against the projection of the poll that Mr Kwankwaso, a former two-term governor of Kano State, lost the north, Mr Jubril said his principal has the region on “lockdown” and will garner the rest of the needed votes from the other parts of the country to win the February presidential election.

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“Let me say this, NOI poll clearly projected that Jonathan would win the 2015 election but he lost, which included many other works (NOI) has done. There is no work that they have done, where you can say that the projections are right or anything.

“Well, that is the extent that I will go in giving any recognition to that statement. It is absolutely false and is not a representation of the reality on ground, particularly if you are talking about the northern part. I have said this repeatedly, Rabiu Kwankwaso has the northern part on lockdown, in a matter of three to four months, the fact will emerge,” he argued.

Weighing the chances of both Messrs Tinubu and Atiku against Mr Kwankwaso, Mr Jubril described the APC presidential candidate as “a good person (pilot) in a bad party (aeroplane) called APC.”

He said Mr Obi and supporters are divisive but admitted to the chance of Atiku picking a fair number of votes across the country in the election.

It’s mere hallucination, concocted trash – Bwala, Onanuga
In his reaction, the PDP campaign spokesperson, Daniel Bwala, said Mr Obi is basking in the euphoria of social media hallucination.

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He dismissed the result of the poll and vowed to throw a party if the LP candidate is able to win just three states in the South-east, widely considered to be his stronghold.

Mr Bwala dismissed the poll on the ground that it failed to provide size of the participants, methodology and the margin of error which are basics in conducting a poll.

“I know they said it is a random sampling. But then, because of the result I am tempted to believe that this polling was carried out online because Peter Obi has a measure of people who are very active for him online much more than the other candidate and I will tell you why.

“There was an algorithm and data analytics that was carried out that came up with the finding that 57.5% of people who follow Peter Obi and engaged for him on social media do not live in Nigeria. In fact, the majority of whom are bots on Twitter, they are not real human beings.

“If you take away 57.5% of the people who are active for him, who probably live abroad and they don’t have voters card they are likely not to come to vote, then what it means is that Peter is basking in the euphoria of hallucination and this (poll) result is a true reflection of that,” he argued.

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Mr Bwala said Atiku is the only candidate among the four that is accepted across the regions.

He supported his assertion by saying that President Muhammadu Buhari will not be on the ballot in the coming elections and this will be in favour of Atiku presumable as far as the north is concerned.

He said the PDP presidential candidate lost the 2019 election to Mr Buhari by over two million votes “when the APC was more united”.

‘Concocted’
The spokesman of the APC presidential campaign council, Bayo Onanuga, in his brief reaction, said the poll that gave Obi a lead was “concocted and meant for the trash can.”

He noted that Mr Tinubu, believed to have an edge in the South-west, had only 18 per cent according to the poll.

“If you look at it, the reason why you have to dismiss this is this, the NOI poll gives our candidates 18% in the South-west, that is our own base. You don’t need to do any opinion poll to know that that is the stronghold of our candidate. And they went to the North-east and gave our candidate 18 per cent again, whereas the same people gave Peter Obi 64 per cent in the South-east. You can see that there is no logic in this thing,” Mr Onanuga argued.

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