205 members of staff at the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) have been suspended and placed on half salary, after the consideration of a report by the Disciplinary Committee set up to look into an interim report bythe Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), accusing some of its officials of fraud during the 2015 General Elections.
INEC claims N3 billion was spent in bribing electoral commissioners in 16 states during the 2015 general election. A statement signed by INEC National Commissioner, Mr Mohammed Haruna, reads:
“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 ofthe Federation. In furtherance of its zero tolerance for corruption in the electoral process, the Commission ordered a thorough investigationinto 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 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 resultof initial findings of the Committee, an additional 80 serving officials of the Commission, who werenot named in the EFCC report but whose names came up in the course of the investigation, were also queried and interviewed. “The Committee found that:
a) 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.
b) Out of over 23 billion Naira, which the EFCC report said was used to influence the elections, the Committee established that 3,046,829,000 Naira was received by INEC staff in 16 States.”In reaching its decision on the findings of the Committee, the Commission adhered strictly to the INEC Staff Conditions of Service.
The Commission therefore decided as follows:
a) 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.
b) 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 salary, pending the final determination of the cases they have with the EFCC.
c) Seventy staff (70) about whom there was insufficient information regarding their involvement will be referred back to EFCC for further investigation and possible prosecution.
d) 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.