The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), on Tuesday, said tax clearance is not compulsory for candidates contesting in the 2023 elections.
The chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, stated this in Abuja during a meeting on the collaboration for Effective Tax Compliance of Political Office Holders, convened at the instance of the Joint Tax Board.
He therefore noted that it would collaborate with anti-graft agencies, involving the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other-Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and the Code of Conduct Bureau ( CCB) on forged academic credentials in the 2023 general election.
Other agencies that were represented at the meeting included the Chief Executive Officers of the Federal Inland Revenue Service and the Code of Conduct Bureau.
Yakubu said that beyond the nullification of elections of candidates that submitted fake or forged credentials, he believed that such individuals should be prosecuted.
In his words, “We are already collaborating with the ICPC which is prosecuting candidates who submitted fake or forged academic credentials to INEC, as a result of which elections were nullified by the Election Petition Tribunals.
“Beyond the nullification of elections, such persons should be prosecuted. And I am happy that the ICPC is handling that responsibility.
“Let me assure you that INEC is in collaboration with the ICPC, Code of Conduct Bureau in our efforts to make Nigeria a better place and to ensure that persons who are elected comply with the laws of the land and are suitably qualified to hold the public trust.
“Nigeria must be a democratic nation for all and not just a plutocracy for a few people, who end up evading taxes.
“So I want to thank you and be rest assured of our willingness to collaborate with you.”
The INEC boss stressed that there was no specific law that made it mandatory for candidates for election to present evidence of tax payment before they could contest election.
“But we understand the importance of this collaboration and we will collaborate with you.
“All candidates for elected offices are required to complete the INEC nomination forms and to swear to an affidavit that they have fully and faithfully provided the requisite information to the commission.
“We will collaborate with sister agencies to provide whatever information you require to facilitate your constitutional roles.
“Leadership comes with enormous responsibilities, at both the executive and legislative levels and persons entrusted with that responsibility must respect the constitution and laws of this country.
“That’s why agencies responsible for ensuring compliance with the constitution and laws of this government just like INEC, have fully supported us,” the INEC boss emphasized. “