The Civil Society Network Against Corruption (CSNAC), an umbrella organization for over 150 anti-graft groups, has told the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission(EFCC), to immediately investigate some Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) officials alleged to have been involved in bribe taking during the 2015 general elections. These include Professor Maurice Iwu, former INEC Chairman, state Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) and Administrative Secretaries.
The call was made in a petition by CSNAC to the interim EFCC Chairman, Ibrahim Magu. Signed by the coalition's National Chairman, Mr. Olanrewaju Suraju, the petition said the group observed that the current investigation into the matter is less than far-reaching and called on the EFCC not to spare any of those involved.
CSNAC recalled a report in The Nation Newspaper of January 16, 2017, which alleged that not fewer than 200 INEC officials were queried for allegedly collecting bribes during the 2015 elections.
"It was reported that about N23.29billion was paid out to INEC officials in a desperate bid to change the results of the election won by President Muhammadu Buhari.
"In addition to the above, it was further stated that an investigation conducted by your agency revealed that the money involved came from former Oil Minister Diezani Allison-Madueke," CSNAC stated. The coalition added that it is aware that the INEC is currently investigating the allegations through a panel it constituted. The panel, headed by National Commissioner, Baba Shettima Arfo, CSNAC explained, has the mandate to probe and apply internal sanctions to officials found culpable and subsequently turn over such officials to the EFCC for prosecution.
While CSNAC is in favor of the step, it noted that there are areas of complaints about the approach adopted for the investigation.
"It is our observation that the current investigation seems incomplete and in-exhaustive. These shortcomings could be misconstrued as an attempt at conferring a favor on some sacred cows, given 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.
To banish the question mark on the credibility of the investigation, CSNAC said certain elements of the process should be looked into.
"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 neither has it revealed the source(s), which eliminated some of the RECs from the ongoing probe," stated the group.
CSNAC noted that the RECs in the South-West and North-West states and administrative secretaries are not included in the probe. It sated that it has strong reasons to believe the excluded categories were involved. The group also said Professor Maurice Iwu, former INEC Chairman, reportedly recruited for the disbursement of the bribes, was neither mentioned in the investigation nor invited for interrogation.
"This report fails to consider and interrogate some RECs who volunteered to resign at the wake of the scandal. We believe this approach is against the tenets of justice as a mere resignation from office ought not to be sufficient in the face of the weight of the alleged offenses.
"The particular popular case of Mr. Okogie, who was indicted in the Akwa-Ibom election scam, 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," observed the coalition.
On account of these omissions, CSNAC said there is a need for all the alleged participants in the bribery scam and those indicted in the National Human Rights Commission reports on the 2015 elections are made to face the law.
"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," CSNAC concluded.