The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has suspended 205 of its staff members enmeshed in a N23 billion bribe to rig the 2015 general elections.
The indicted officials are alleged to have been involved in a plot to rig the election in the favour of former president Goodluck Jonathan.
INEC also revealed that one its former National Commissioners (unnamed) was involved in the distribution of the alleged N23bn which was released by former Petroleum Minister, Mrs Diezani Allison Madueke, to bribe its staff members to rig the 2015 general elections.
The Commission, in a press briefing Tuesday, said that the unnamed former national commissioner also contracted a Non-Government Organisation (NGO) named West African Network of Election Observers (WANECO), which it noted, is being run by retired senior INEC officials, to distribute the bribe to its staff members in 16 states of the federation.
These revelations were made by INEC National Commissioner, Mallam Mohammed Haruna, who briefed the media along with three other National Commissioners, Professor Okechukwu Ibeanu, May Agbamuche-Mbu, after the commissions weekly meeting in Abuja.
He noted that the commission ordered a thorough investigation into the allegation to establish the culpability or otherwise of all the staff members named in the EFCC report. He affirmed that the commission has placed a total of 205 members of its staff on suspension with half salaries, pending the determination of their cases.
“The Commission met today to consider the report of its expanded Appointment, Promotion and Disciplinary Committee on the EFCC Interim Report on Bribery Corruption and Money Laundering Charges During the 2015 General Elections. You may recall that late last year, the Commission received an Interim Report from the EFCC detailing allegations against 202 serving and retired INEC officials and staff in 16 States of the Federation.”
“In furtherance of its zero-tolerance for corruption in the electoral process, the Commission ordered a thorough investigation into the allegations to establish the culpability or otherwise of those named in the EFCC Report. The Committee’s work was thorough and painstaking, involving issuance of queries to the 202 staff members mentioned in the Report and interviewing 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 out that there was a clear attempt to bribe INEC staff to influence the outcome of the 2015 general elections using an NGO, the West African Network of Election Observers (WANEO), made up mainly of retired senior INEC officials. Out of over N23 billion, which the EFCC Report said was used to influence the elections, the Committee established that N3,046,829,000 was received by INEC staff in 16 States.”
The Commission noted that in reaching its decision on the findings of the Committee, it adhered strictly to the INEC Staff Conditions of Service and therefore decided as follows:
“The cases of one former National Commissioner, 5 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, two hundred and five (205) serving INEC staff will be immediately placed on Interdiction, which entails suspension from duties and being placed on half salaries, pending the final determination of the cases they have with the EFCC,” the committee said.
INEC also disclosed that it has returned to the EFCC, for further investigation and possible prosecution, the files of 70 staff members about whom there was insufficient information regarding their involvement.
Meanwhile, the NGO, which was fingered in the alleged bribe scandal, has been blacklisted and will no longer take part in any INEC organised event – according to the Commission.