Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Mahmood Yakubu, has said about one hundred staff of the commission are currently undergoing interrogation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for electoral offences.
He said based on investigation, the number of the commission’s staff facing interrogation has kept increasing by the day.
In a statement issued by the commission monday, Yakubu said the electoral body is cooperating with the EFCC, adding that any staff found culpable would be sacked from the service of the commission.
“So far, over 100 staff of the INEC have been invited by the EFCC. At a point, we toyed with idea of speaking to the EFCC to see the weight of the evidence they have so that we can take administrative action against our staff but they are innocent until they are proven guilty. They have to be charged to the court but we have taken notice and we have a complete list,” he said.
The INEC chair was said to have disclosed this during his visit to the offices of four media houses in Lagos.
Yakubu called for the establishment of the Electoral Offences Commission and Tribunal as prescribed by the Justice Mohammed Uwais and Ahmed Lemu Commissions, noted that inconclusive elections were brought about largely by violence.
He noted that the only way to put to rest this spectre of violence that continues to haunt Nigeria’s elections was to put in place a mechanism that will punish offenders, arguing that “there are people who believe that they can do anything and get away with it.”
Yakubu also spoke of moves by the commission to get the federal government to appoint the remaining six national commissioners into the INEC’s board.
He expressed optimism that following representations made by the commission to the presidency, the outstanding six National Commissioners and 21 Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) would soon be appointed to replace those whose tenures have lapsed. He stressed that the prerogative of nominating or appointing the commissioners was that of the president.
On the specter of inconclusive elections in the country, Yakubu said these were caused by violence and over voting, adding that the situation Yakubu were also being compounded by the recent evolution of two strong parties as opposed to the past where we had one mega party and smaller ones.
He traced the history of inconclusive elections to the 1979 presidential election and observed however, that inconclusive elections were not strange to our laws while emphasising that the commission under his watch was irrevocably determined to ensure that each vote counted.