- EFCC Submits Report on 100 INEC Officials
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has submitted an official report to the Independent National Electoral Commission on the 100 electoral officials who allegedly received part of the $115m (N23bn) disbursed on the instruction of a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, during the build-up to the 2015 presidential election.
Sources within the EFCC told one of our correspondents that the acting Chairman of the EFCC, Mr. Ibrahim Magu, met with the Chairman of INEC, Mahmood Yakubu, in Abuja last week.
The report was said to have contained the outcome of the investigations and recommendations of the anti-graft agency on the scam.
It was learnt that while some of the officials would face dismissal for flouting of INEC rules, a majority of the officials would be arraigned by the EFCC.
Some of the officials reportedly returned over N300m while houses were recovered from some of them.
An EFCC operative said, “We have submitted the report to INEC and it is left for the electoral body to do its part. They will guide us on prosecution and other matters.
“We heard that some of the electoral officers have gone to court to stop INEC from dismissing them. However, this cannot stop us from bringing criminal charges against them.”
The source said the report contained the outcome of investigations in five geopolitical zones.
“The report contains the outcome of investigations in all the geopolitical zones except the North-Central. It will be done later,” the source added.
He said two houses and two plazas had been recovered from the Resident Electoral Commissioner in Rivers State during the 2015 election, Gesila Khan, while her accounts had been frozen.
According to impeccable sources in the EFCC, Khan allegedly received N185.8m ahead of the March 28 and April 11, 2015 elections.
The source also revealed that the EFCC had arrested one Fidelia Omoile, who was the INEC electoral officer in Isoko-South Local Government Area of Delta State during the 2015 polls.
Apart from tracing over N112.4m to her, 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 Obi 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 Okon Effanga, who is a retired INEC official.
Effanga was arrested alongside his alleged accomplice, Immaculata Asuquo, who was 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 election.
Also in Gombe State, 11 electoral officials, who supervised elections in the state during the 2015 general elections, admitted to receiving N120m out of the N23bn.
The electoral officer for the Akko LGA in Gombe State, Ahmed Biu, and the one in charge of Gombe LGA, Mohammed Zannah, allegedly admitted to have collected the bribe from one Yunusa Biri, also a retired electoral officer, who acted as Gombe State coordinator of bribes for electoral officers in the state.
The detective gave the names of some other detained officers as 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.
When contacted, the Chief Press Secretary to the INEC Chairman, Mr. Rotimi Oyekanmi, said he was yet to be briefed on the submission of the report.
“I am not aware for now,” he said on Saturday.
Meanwhile, there are indications that INEC has removed the name of the former REC in Rivers State, Khan, on its list of commissioners in the states.
The Deputy Director, Voter Education and Publicity of INEC, Mr. Nick Dazang, said in a telephone conversation on Saturday that while the commission had nine serving RECS, Khan was not one of them.
He promised to get her true status from the Legal Department of the commission but had not done so as of the time of filing this report.
Dazang stated, “The statistics that I have show that there are nine RECS now, who are serving and she is not one of them.
“The position of the commission has been that the public service rules will apply, but as of now, the EFCC is investigating, then, after the investigation, the public service rule will apply.
“But I know also that there is an internal committee that was looking into the case of those persons.”
Although Dazang could not give the findings of the INEC’s internal probe panel, he said the indicted officials had all appeared before the committee which had had several sittings.
Oyekanmi, the spokesman for the INEC chairman, said the ongoing investigation into the alleged bribery scandal should be allowed to follow due process.
He said, “We should not preempt the outcome of the investigation. When the final decision is made, it would be made public. We have nothing to hide. Like I said, this is a serious crime that people are being accused of, and we have to allow due process.
“They have to be charged to court and we have to give the court the opportunity to deliver judgment. There is no internal panel that will preempt what the court is going to decide. It is what the court decides that will determine the action of the commission, not the other way round.”
He said the affected officials had not been sacked which meant that they would be entitled to their salaries.
Buhari Declares Oct 1 Public Holiday
The Federal Government has declared Thursday, October 1, 2020, as a public holiday to commemorate Nigeria’s 60th Independence Anniversary.
The Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, who made the declaration, congratulated all Nigerians on the celebration of the country’s Diamond Jubilee while stressing the government’s commitment to the socio-economic transformation of the country.
This was contained in a statement titled, ‘FG Declares Thursday, October 1, 2020, Public Holiday To Mark Nigeria’s 60th Independence Anniversary’ and signed by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Interior, Georgina Ehuriah.
According to the statement, the minister praised Nigerians for the feats in economy, education, the creative sector, amongst others.
The statement also quoted Aregbesola as saying, “Though celebrating sixty years of independence really calls for pomp and pageantry, but with the global COVID-19 pandemic, which has forced all nations in the world to think and act cautiously, we cannot avoid the imperative of a low-keyed celebration at this time.”
It added, “While wishing Nigerians a fruitful independence celebration, he reminded them of the fact that our founding fathers, in spite of the differences in faith, tribe and tongue came together for Nigeria’s independence.”
INEC To Introduce E-voting, Talking to Machine Manufacturers
INEC Commences Process of Introducing E-voting, Discussing With Manufacturers
The Independent National Electoral Commission on Monday said it has commenced plans to replace manual voting with an electronic voting system.
According to Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, who disclosed this during the demonstration of electronic voting machines, the commission has invited manufacturers of electronic voting machines around the world to demonstrate how the machines work and preparatory to the full migration.
He said, “Over the years, the commission has been automating the critical pillars of the process. The biometric register of voters has been updated continuously. At the moment, the INEC register of voters is the largest database of citizens in Nigeria.
“In addition, the combination of biometric voter cards commonly known as the Permanent Voter Card and the Smart Card Reader have revolutionised the accreditation of voters during elections.
“More recently, the introduction of a number of portals has facilitated the seamless nomination of candidates for elective offices by political parties as well as the accreditation of observers and the media.
“Most significantly, the commission now uploads polling unit level results in real-time on Election Day to a portal for public view. These are significant innovations that have deepened the transparency and credibility of elections and the electoral process in Nigeria.
“The commission developed the specifications of the functions required of the machine. After extensive discussion and review, the commission took the decision to invite original manufacturers of electronic voting machines around the world for a virtual or practical demonstration of the machines.”
Yakubu explained that more than 40 companies have indicated interest and would be demonstrating to the commission how the IT solutions meet its specifications.
“The commission is aware that Nigerians want us to deepen the use of technology in elections. Let me reassure Nigerians that the commission is committed to expediting the process leading to the deployment of the EVMs in elections in earnest,” the INEC chairman said.
Mali Sworn In Bah Ndaw as Transition President
Mali’s interim president, Bah Ndaw, chosen to head a transitional government following a coup last month, was sworn in during ceremonies in the capital Bamako on Friday, AFP journalists witnessed.
A committee appointed by the junta which seized power on August 18, toppling President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, selected Ndaw, a 70-year-old retired colonel, as interim president.
Ndaw is due to lead a transition government for a maximum of 18 months before organising national elections.
Colonel Assimi Goita, who led the military junta, was also sworn in as interim vice president.
The ceremony on Friday took place in a theatre filled with officials dressed in military fatigues, senior judges, and foreign diplomats.
During the ceremony, Supreme Court Chief Prosecutor Boya Dembele said the challenges facing both men were “enormous”.
“It will truly require a reformulation of the state,” said the judge, dressed in red fur-lined robes.
The swearing-in comes as the fragile Sahel state’s neighbours have leaned on the military junta to appoint civilians as interim president and prime minister.
The 15-nation Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) slapped sanctions on the poor country on August 20 to push for a swift return to civilian rule.
A decision by the bloc on whether to ease the measure is possible on Friday, according to former Nigerian president and ECOWAS mediator Goodluck Jonathan.
“We are optimistic that this event will signal the beginning of the return to normalcy in Mali,” he said on Twitter on Thursday night, referring to the swearing in of interim-government leaders.
Last month’s coup followed weeks of mass protests against Keita, spurred by frustrations over a brutal jihadist conflict, perceived corruption and the country’s slumping economy.
Mali has struggled to quell an eight-year-old Islamist insurgency which has claimed thousands of military and civilian lives.
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