N23bn bribe: INEC Suspends 205 Staff Over Bribery Allegation

Chidi Samuel with agency report || The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Tuesday disclosed that it has suspended two hundred and five members of staff, placed them on half salary and written the presidency for directives on six of its former personnel – a national Commissioner and five Resident Electoral Commissioners involved in alleged N23 billion election bribe.

INEC’s National Commissioner, Mallam Mohammed Haruna, state this in Abuja while updating newsmen of the commission’s investigation on the alleged Deziani Bribery saga.

Haruna, who is also a Member, Information, and Voter Education Committee, said the Commission had also blacklisted and deleted a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), West African Network of Election Observers (WANEO) found to be involved in the alleged bribery.

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.

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He said that the committee issued queries to the 202 staff mentioned in the report, and interviewed them 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,’’

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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.

“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.’’

“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.’’