A social advocacy group, Civil Society Network Against Corruption, CSNAC, has urged the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, to take over the investigation of the allegations of bribery against some officials of the Independent Electoral Commission, INEC, during the 2015 general elections.
A newspaper report on Monday January 16 had claimed that about 200 INEC officials were under investigation for allegedly collecting bribes to the tune of N23.29 billion to alter results of the elections.
The report further stated that INEC had set up a panel under one of its national commissioners, Shettima Arfo, to probe the allegations and recommend internal sanctions for those who may be found culpable ahead of their release for prosecution.
But in its petition to the anti-graft agency signed by its chairman, Olanrewaju Suraju, CSNAC said it observed that the reported investigations into the matter by INEC were “incomplete and in-exhaustive”.
It said although it welcomed the internal exercise as capable of ridding the electoral process of unsavoury corrupt practices, it however highlighted “grey areas” in the commission’s current approach to the said investigation.
“It is our observation that the current investigation seems incomplete and in-exhaustive. These shortcomings could be misconstrued as an attempt at conferring favour on some sacred cows, in view of some of the major corruption related incidences involving INEC officials which were widely reported during the elections but not included in the commission’s current investigation report”, the group stated in the petition.
“It was revealed that the resident electoral commissioners in the entire 36 states of the federation were billed to partake in the sharing of the said N23 billion bribe, however, the current probe by the INEC does not cover all the states’ RECs, or reveal the source(s) which eliminated some of the RECs from the ongoing probe”.
The group noted that the RECs and INEC administrative secretaries in the South-West and North-West states, which “we have strong reasons to believe are participis criminis in the said bribery scam”, and a former chairman of the commission alleged to have been recruited for the disbursement of the bribes, were not “mentioned in the investigation or invited for interrogation”.
“This report fails to consider and interrogate some RECs reported to have volunteered to resign in the wake of the scandal. We believe this approach is against the tenets of justice as mere resignation from office ought not to be sufficient in the face of the weight of the alleged offences.
“The particular popular cases of Mr. Okogie who was indicted in the Akwa-Ibom elections was not slated for the said investigations and the grounds for such exoneration even in the face of public awareness of same is unknown.
“Also, Mr. Soyebi who fought one Mr. Onyema Ugochukwu in Abia over bribe money during the Abia state elections was not presented for investigations in the current probe.
“CSNAC hereby wishes to draw your attention to the aforementioned issues towards ensuring that all the alleged participants in the bribery scam and those indicted in the National Human Rights Commission reports on the 2015 are brought to book regardless of whose ox is gored. We are of the view that no sacred cows should be entertained in the fight against corruption.
“We are confident in your statutory powers to address the above issues in line with the relevant anti corruption laws and statutes and thereby look forward to your urgent action in that regard,” the group stated in the petition.