N23bn Diezani Bribe: INEC Writes Buhari Over RECs Indicted By EFCC
The Independent National Electoral Commission has written to the Presidency over the indictment of some Resident Electoral Commissioners for alleged corruption by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
The INEC National Commissioner in charge of Publicity and Voter Education, Mr. Solomon Soyebi, told one of our correspondents on the telephone on Monday that the commission decided to write the Presidency about the indictment of the RECs because it had little control over them.
According to him, the commission cannot do anything about the cases involving about four RECs because they were appointed by the President.
Soyebi did not, however, mention the names of the RECs indicted by the anti-graft agency for their alleged role in the distribution of N23bn, which allegedly emanated from a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, during the build-up to the 2015 elections.
Funds were traced to about 202 INEC officials including the RECs.
Soyebi, who is also the INEC National Commissioner in charge of the South-West, said it would be appropriate to get the status of the cases involving the affected RECs from the EFCC which investigated them.
He said, “Honestly, it is the EFCC that can answer that. They (the RECs) were appointed by the President; we didn’t appoint them. So there is little control we can have over them.
“What we did was to write to the Presidency to notify it of a particular number of RECs that the EFCC told us they had cases against.
“About three or four RECs are involved, but I am not too sure. I don’t know their names off- hand.”
He added that the cases involving the 202 officials of the commission, who were indicted for allegedly receiving part of the N23bn bribe, were still being investigated and reviewed by the commission.
“The statement we gave on them last week is still the same about their status, that investigation is still ongoing,” he added
The EFCC had, in October last year, submitted a report to INEC regarding the over 200 electoral officials who allegedly received part of the $115m (N23bn) allegedly disbursed by Diezani.
The report was said to have contained the outcome of investigations and recommendations.
Some of the officials returned over N300m while houses were recovered from some of them.
EFCC sources said two houses and two plazas had been recovered from the REC in Rivers State during the 2015 elections, Gesila Khan, while her accounts had been frozen.
According to impeccable sources at the EFCC, Khan received N185.8m ahead of the March 28 and April 11, 2015 elections.
Another REC in Abia State, Sylvester Ezeani, allegedly received N20m but is said to have returned the money to the EFCC.
The source also revealed that the EFCC had arrested one Fidelia Omoile, who was the INEC electoral officer in the Isoko South Local Government Area of Delta State.
Apart from tracing over N112.4m to Omoile, the commission also recovered some sensitive electoral materials during a search on her apartments in Edo and Delta states.
The commission also arrested one Oluchi Brown, who was the INEC Administrative Secretary in Delta State. She allegedly received over N111.5m.
Further investigations by detectives revealed that Brown had about $75,000 in an account in the United States.
The anti-graft agency also arrested one Edem Effanga, a retired INEC official. Effanga was arrested alongside his alleged accomplice, Immaculata Asuquo, who is the Head, Voter Education of INEC in Akwa Ibom State.
Effanga was alleged to have received over N241.1m which he shared among INEC ad hoc workers during the last elections.
Also in Gombe State, 11 electoral officers, who supervised elections in the state during the 2015 general elections, admitted to receiving N120m out of the N23bn.
Some other officials indicted were Godwin Maiyaki, Gambo Balanga, Bukar Benisheik, Dukku, Jibril Muhammed, Billiri, Dunguma Dogona, Funakaye, Mohammed Wanka, Kaltungo, Ishaku Yusuf, Kwami, Suleiman Isawa, Babagana Malami, Shongom and Nuhu Samuel.
Attempts to speak with the spokesman for the EFCC, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, on Monday, proved abortive as his mobile indicated that it was switched off.
However, a reliable source in the EFCC said the commission had done its job and it was waiting for a response from INEC.
“As you know, we have submitted our report to INEC and the electoral body has its internal mechanism for dealing with errant officials.
“Once INEC has concluded its investigation and given us its report, we will take action,” the source said.
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