As political parties and candidates are gearing up for campaigns ahead of the 2023 general elections, stakeholders have started asking questions about election finance and the acceptance of donations to fund political activities.
The Electoral Act 2022 have some key provisions on election finance and domain limit that a candidate running for elective office can accept from individuals or entities.
The Act put limitations on election expenses that can be incurred by candidates for different offices.
Section 88 (2-7) introduces new maximum limits on election expenses for candidates as follows: (1) a presidential candidate is not allowed to spend above N5,000,000,000 (Five Billion Naira) in an election; (2) a governorship candidate cannot incur expenses above N1,000,000,000 (One Billion Naira) in an election; (3) senatorial candidates are allowed to spend up but not beyond N100,000,000 (One Hundred Million Naira) in an election; (4) those seeking elections into the federal house of representatives are not allowed to spend beyond N70,000,000 (Seventy Million Naira) in an election.
Others include (5) candidates for state assembly elections who may incur expenses up to but not above N30,000,000 (Thirty Million Naira); (6) candidates for area council chairmanship elections who can spend up to but not beyond N30,000,000 (Thirty Million Naira) in an election and (7) candidates for area council councillorship election are permitted to spend up to N5,000,000 (Five Million Naira).
The Act provides for penalties for candidates who contravene the provisions to a Fine of 1% of the amount permitted as the limit of campaign expenditure or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months or both.
Section 88(9) of the Act also provides that in the event that an accountant helps a candidate to falsify election expenses documents such accountant is liable to a fine of N3,000,000 or 3 years imprisonment or both.
Donation limits and penalties
Section 88(11) of the Electoral Act 2022 provides that the maximum limit for donations from an individual or entity to a candidate is N50,000,000 (Fifty Million Naira).
Section 88(8) provides for the penalty for individuals or entities who contravenes the donation limit to be liable to a Fine of N500, 000 or 9 months imprisonment or both.
The provision in Section 88(10) says allowable election expenses incurred by a political party shall be determined by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in consultation with the political parties.
Section 89(2) provides a penalty for a political party that incurs expenses above the limit set by INEC: a maximum fine of N1,000,000 and forfeiture to INEC of the amount in excess of the limit.