EFCC set to prosecute top INEC officials over bribery scandal
The anti-corruption crusade of the Muhammadu Buhari government may have hit the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)
About 100 staff of the electoral umpire are alleged to have been indicted and that some of them have returned some money
The indicted were said to have received various sums in bribe to influence the outcome of the 2015 election
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is set to commence the prosecution of about 100 staff of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) over an alleged bribery scandal totalling over N23.29 billion.
Among those indicted are two Resident Electoral Commissioners (REC) of the commission named as Gesil Khan and Mr Slyvester Ezeani.
The bribe was said to have been received to influence the 2015 general election, but the election was won by Presidenr Muhammadu Buhari.
The Nation reports that the acting chairman of the EFCC, Mr Ibrahim Magu, and the chairman of INEC, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, have met to discuss the list of the indicted and how to go about their prosecution.
The report said since INEC does not have the powers to prosecute, Yakubu would be sending the names of the RECs to the president as they were appointed by his office.
The report said the two RECs, 16 INEC directors and 82 others were indicted and that many of them have owned up to the allegation while some have refunded some money.
Those already questioned are:
1. Khan for collecting N185,842,000 out of a N681 million bribe deal
2. Fidelia Omoile (Electoral officer in Isoko-South local government area of Delta state) for allegedly collecting N112,480,000
3. Uluochi Obi Brown (INEC’s administrative secretary in Delta state) for allegedly collecting N111,500,000
4. Edem Okon Effanga, a former deputy director of INEC in Cross River state for allegedly receiving N241,127,000
5. Immaculata Asuquo, the head of voter education in INEC in Akwa Ibom, for allegedly receiving N214,127,000.
The report further said some of those indicted have also had their assets seized by the anti-graft agency.
In Gombe state, those that were reportedly questioned include: Godwin Maiyaki Gambo Balanga, Bukar Alone Benisheik, Jibril, B Muhammed, Billiri, Dunguma Musa Dogona, Funakaye, Mohammed A Wanka, Kaltungo, Ishaku Yusuf, Kwami, Suleiman Isawa, Nafada, Babagana Malami, Shongom, and Nuhu Samuel.
“We are closer to the trial of INEC officials implicated in the scandal. The EFCC chairman and INEC chief have met at the office of the anti-graft agency on the report and the list of those to be investigated already sorted out at the meeting.
“One of the key decisions at the meeting is the need to subject the indicted officials to internal disciplinary action before the EFCC can charge them to court.
“The INEC chairman, it was learnt, made a commitment that the electoral body would expedite action on the disciplinary procedure.
“After the internal disciplinary measures, INEC will then forward its decision to the EFCC to pave the way for the trial of the affected officials.
“Based on the mode of appointment of RECs, the INEC chairman said only the President could exercise disciplinary control on them because they are his appointees.
“With this development, EFCC will now refer the two RECs to the President for necessary action. All the evidence will also be forwarded to the president,” a source was quoted as saying.
The report said Sani Isa, a retired INEC official, was questioned over an alleged N406,206,000 bribe sum allegedly collected on behalf of the deceased Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), in Kano state, Alhaji Mukaila Abdullahi.