Legal Nigeria

N23.3b bribe: INEC chiefs to face disciplinary panel

EFCC quizzes 16 directors
Some Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) officials have been summoned to the agency’s Abuja headquarters in connection with the alleged N23.29billion bribe the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is probing.
The EFCC has quizzed 16 top INEC officials, including 10 directors, over the scandal.
Those invited are two Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) and an administrative officer.
The RECs are Gesila Khan and Austen Okojie, who have been under investigation by the EFCC and other security agencies.
On the list too   is an Administrative Secretary in Delta State,  Uluochi Obi Brown.
Khan has been  quizzed for allegedly collecting  N185, 842,000 out of a N681million bribe. Brown allegedly got   N111,500,000.
Okojie’s infractions were unknown as at press time but the INEC management is said to have “a security report” on him.
The officials will appear on Wednesday  before the Senior Staff Disciplinary Committee chaired by a National Commissioner, Mustapha Lecky.
More RECs and INEC officials may face the panel based on EFCC’s investigation.
The indicted officials may be dropped by the Presidency if the allegations against them are established “beyond reasonable doubt”.
The INEC management has stepped into the poll bribery scandal to cleanse the system of corrupt elements.
REC Gesil Khan allegedly collected  N185, 842,000 out of a N681million bribe; Fidelia Omoile( Electoral Officer in Isoko-South Local Government Area of Delta State)—N112,480,000 ; Uluochi Obi Brown( INEC’s Administrative Secretary in Delta State)—N111,500,000; a former Deputy Director  of INEC in Cross River state, Edem Okon Effanga—N241,127,000 and the Head of Voter Education in INEC in Akwa Ibom, Immaculata Asuquo—N214,127,000.
A retired INEC official, Sani Isa,  was grilled for alleged N 406,206,000 bribe, allegedly collected on behalf of the deceased Resident Electoral Commissioner  (REC) in Kano State, Alhaji Mukaila Abdullahi.
A source, who spoke in confidence, said: “Apart from EFCC’s findings, the INEC management is also looking into the scandal which has battered the image of the commission.
“The Secretary of INEC, Mrs. Augusta Ogakwu, has sent a letter of invitation to the affected RECs and Administrative Secretary.
“Apart from the confidential report of the EFCC, I think INEC may revisit the report of a committee sent to Rivers and Akwa Ibom during the 2015 poll when there were issues in the two states.
“So far, EFCC has not accused Okojie of involvement in the bribery but I think he is being invited to face the disciplinary panel on the basis of the report of the committee which looked into issues in Akwa Ibom during the 2015 poll when he was the REC in the state.”
Responding to a question, the source added: “Although the chairman of the disciplinary committee is on a medical trip abroad, the INEC management may find a way out.”
As at press time, the EFCC has quizzed 16 top INEC officials over the scandal.
They include four directors at INEC headquarters, six directors at the state level and six Heads of Operations in the Southwest
Another source said: “Actually, EFCC wrote a letter to INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmud Yakubu, seeking permission to interrogate these top officers.
“They were all subsequently released to the anti-graft agency for a comprehensive session.
“The outcome of the interrogation  led to the discovery that a former INEC chairman and two ex-National Commissioners coordinated  the bribery ring which led to the disbursement of the N23.29billion by Fidelity Bank.
“The INEC management is awaiting EFCC’s report on these 14 directors before wielding the big stick if they are found guilty.
“Sensing danger, one of the Administrative Secretaries implicated had offered to resign his appointment. This resignation will still not prevent his arraignment if he has a case to answer.”
There were indications last night that the RECs might be dropped by the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari if they are found guilty.
Many directors might be fired too depending on the report of the EFCC and INEC management.
“There is already tension in the system because many INEC officers benefited from the bribe. It was discreetly done but the scam has been uncovered by EFCC.
“Those involved are jittery that their days are numbered because the administration of Buhari will not condone nonsense. In fact, a few directors have been seeking advice on whether or not to quit before being shown the way out.”
A former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke is believed to be central to the huge bribe of poll officials to alter the 2015 presidential election results.
About $115m( N23.29b) was involved in the bribery, with four  oil firms contributing $88.35million.
The Nation