The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), has requested the Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, to “promptly, thoroughly and effectively investigate allegations that Senate President, Bukola Saraki spent between N200m and N400m in every state, except the six South-West states, to influence the outcome of the 2015 elections for the All Progressives Congress (APC).”
The body similarly urged INEC to “investigate the sources of other cases of apparently unexplained campaign financing and contributions for the 2015 elections by politicians and supporters of the two main political parties; that is, the APC and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
“We urge you to collaborate with the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in any such investigation.”
However, Senate President, Saraki, has dismissed the audio, which he said was doctored by those he described as “online henchmen and mercenary influencers.”
But notwithstanding the denial, SERAP, in a letter to INEC chair, dated 17 November 2018, said: “It risks distorting electoral processes and reversing the gains in the democratic and electoral processes that have been recorded since the return of democracy in 1999.”
The letter, signed by its senior legal adviser, Bamisope Adeyanju, was copied to Ibrahim Mustapha Magu, Acting Chairman EFCC; Dr. Musa Usman Abubakar, Acting Chairman, ICPC; and Professor Itse Sagay, Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC).
“Unexplained and unregulated spending to influence the outcome of any election can distort the electoral competition and lead to state capture by wealthy politicians and individuals. “SERAP urges you to prosecute anyone suspected to be involved and/or complicit in the alleged unexplained campaign spending, if there is relevant and sufficient admissible evidence of violations of international standards and national laws,” it further explained.
But, an aide to the Senate President on new media, Mr. Olu Onemola, described the news item as fake, saying it’s a doctored audio file meant to mislead the public.
Making the clarifications in several tweets at the weekend, Saraki’s aide said there was never a time his principal made such a statement.
“For the record, we always restrain from responding to inconsequential issues that we can otherwise ignore. However, in order to put this issue to rest so that we can move on to real issues, these are the facts,” he tweeted,