INEC Probe Panel to Submit Report Next Week on N23bn Bribery Allegation

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Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said the panel investigating the commission’s staff indicted of committing electoral fraud during the 2015 general election will submitt its report net week.

The commission had constituted a high powered panel early last month to review of the cases of over 100 personnel of the commission indicted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over electoral offences .

While speaking on the probe, INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, promised to investigate the bribery allegation and other alleged electoral malpractices involving INEC staff and any other group or individual during the legislative elections.

The affected personnel were indicted by the EFCC whose operatives investigated them for allegedly receiving part of the N23 billion bribe funds alleged to have been facilitated by a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mr. Deziani Allison-Maduekwe, ahead of the 2015 elections.

The commission received the report of the EFCC probe late December last year and gave the assurance that those found to have received the bribe money would be suspended in accordance with the provisions of the INEC’s conditions of service.

According to the mandate given to the invedtigative panel, it is supposed to concluded its assignement by Friday.
However, contacted the Spokesman to the INEC’s boss, Mr. Rotimi Oyekanmi told THISDAY yesterday that the panel is yet to conclude its deliberations and that it may likely turn-in it’s findings and recommendations by next week.
“The probe committee is still sitting. I don’t think the committee actually started the very day it was inaugurated because I was told that the one month duration given for it conclude it’s assignment will be due next week.

“Al I can tell you is that they have not submitted their report. Let’s wait till next week when they would finish the work. For now they are still working on their terms reference,” he said..

Oyekanmi said though some staff of the INEC were indicted in the EFCC report, the agency is not a court of law and as such it cannot convict the affected officers without prosecuting them in the. Court.

“You know that it was the EFCC that submitted interim report on their investigations to us and because of that INEC now constituted a panel to look at all the issues in that report. They have not finished their work, when they finished by next week they will submit their report to the Chairman and we will now issue an official statement on its outcome.

“For instance if any of those indicted by the EFCC report testifies before the INEC panel and accepts culpability on the alleged office, then that one will be very clear, but what if you call the affect staff and he insisted that he didn’t commit the offence and that he was forced to write the statement, then it becomes a problem.
EFCC have said that whatever the outcome of INEC probe panel, it is ping ahead to prosecute those on its report in the court.

The INEC Spokesman said the reason the commission deemed it necessary to carry out the investigation is because it viewed the alleged offences grievous.

INEC had earlier set up a disciplinary panel on Wednesday December 22 , 2016, the commission said that the four-man committee will be headed by Professor Okechukwu Ibeanu, a National Commissioner representing South East in the commission.
Other members of the committee are AVM Ahmed T. Mu’azu, (National Commissioner) member; Professor Jacob Jatau, (Resident Electoral Commissioner, FCT), Member; Omoloja Tajudeen, Deputy Director (Discipline).

The committee, which was to submit its report on January 30, 2017, was given four-terms of reference.
The panel is to determine the involvement and possible culpability of INEC officials in the conduct and outcome of the elections, and to “recommend appropriate sanctions against officials involved in any infractions and commendation for exceptional performance.”