In an unusual display of honesty, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has finally admitted that its former National Commissioner, and five Resident Electoral Commissioners accepted N23 billion in bribes to mar the 2015 general elections.
INEC National Commissioner, Malam Mohammed Haruna disclosed this on Tuesday in Abuja.
[Haruna is also a Member, Information and Voter Education Committee.]
Malam Haruna, while addressing newsmen on update about the commission’s investigation, said that INEC had intimated the Presidency on the matter.
Haruna also said that they are awaiting further action from Presidency on the affected personnels involved in the alleged election bribes.
He further stated that INEC is bent on sanitising the Commission and purging it of all perceived corruption indices.
Pursuant to that, he said that the Commission had blacklisted and deleted a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), West African Network of Election Observers (WANEO).
WANEO, according to him, has been found to be involved in the alleged bribery scandal.
INEC had in late 2016 received an interim report from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) detailing allegations against 202 serving and retired INEC officials and staff in 16 states of the Federation.
Reacting, the Commission constituted an anti-corruption committee which in turn issued queries to the 202 staff mentioned in the report.
The committee is to thoroughly investigate the allegations to establish the culpability or otherwise of those named in the EFCC report.
The accused personnels were interviewed individually in accordance with the principle of fair hearing and in consonance with INEC Staff Conditions of Service.
“As a result of initial findings of the committee, an additional 80 serving officials of the Commission, who were not named in the EFCC report but whose names came up in the course of the investigation were also queried and interviewed.
“Among other things, the committee found that there was a clear attempt to bribe INEC staff to influence the outcome of the 2015 general elections using WANEO, made up of mainly retired senior INEC officials.
“It was also found out that of over N23 billion, which the EFCC report said was used to influence the elections, the committee established that N3.05 million was received by INEC staff in 16 states.’’
Haruna said that in reaching its decision on the findings of the committee, the Commission adhered strictly to the INEC Staff Conditions of Service and arrived on some decisions.
Some of the decisions he said was that INEC had blacklisted the NGO and also delisted it from accredited observers of elections in Nigeria.
“In the cases of one former National Commissioner, five former Resident Electoral Commissioners (one of them deceased), have been referred to the Presidency and EFCC for further necessary action.
“Based on their level of involvement, 205 serving INEC staff will be immediately placed on interdiction, which entails suspension from duties and being placed on half salary, pending the final determination of the cases they have with the EFCC.
“About 70 out of the 282 officials will be referred back to EFCC for further investigation and possible prosecution as there was insufficient information regarding their involvement.’’
He reiterated the commission’s commitment to defending integrity of the electoral process.
“The commission will continue to take stern action against its officials who compromise its core values of integrity, transparency and impartiality in the conduct of elections.’’