From Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has revealed that an election observer, West Africa Network of Election Observer (WANEO), bribed 205 of its staff, in 16 states, with N3.04 billion to influence the 2015 general elections.
Briefing newsmen after the weekly National Commissioners’ meeting at the headquarters of the Commission, yesterday, a member of the Information and Aborted Education Committee and National Commissioner, Mallam Mohammed Haruna said mainly retired senior INEC workers dominated WANEO which, he said, has been blacklisted.
This was the communique after the meeting: “The Commission met, today, to consider the report of its expanded Appointment, Promotion and Disciplinary Committee on the EFCC’s interim report on bribery corruption and money laundering charges during the 2015 general elections.
“You may recall late last year, the commission received an interim report from the EFCC, detailing allegations against 202 serving and retired INEC officials and staff members 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 communique stated that the committee’s work was thorough and painstaking and involved issuance of queries to the 202 staff 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.
“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 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 billion was received by INEC staff in 16 States,” the communique read.
INEC said 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 members of 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.
The electoral body said about 70 of its workers, with insufficient information regarding their involvement, will be referred back to EFCC for further investigation and possible prosecution.
“WANEO and its principal promoters are, immediately, blacklisted. The network shall no longer be involved in election observation and any other activities organised by INEC.
“The commission, hereby, reiterates its commitment to defending the integrity of the electoral process. Therefore, it will continue to take stern action against its officials who compromise its core values of integrity, transparency and impartiality in the conduct of elections,” it noted.