N23bn Diezani Bribe: EFCC Set To Charge 100 Electoral Officials
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission is set to charge over 100 electoral officials for allegedly receiving part of the $115m (N23bn) disbursed by a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, during the countdown to the 2015 presidential election.
Sources within the EFCC told our correspondent that the acting Chairman of the EFCC, Mr. Ibrahim Magu, and the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, would meet tomorrow (Thursday) in Abuja to tidy up the charges that would be filed against the suspects.
While some of the officials would only face dismissal for breach of INEC rules, a majority of them would be arraigned by the EFCC.
Some of the officials, who have returned a total sum of N400m, may not face prosecution.
At the meeting, Magu is expected to present a report on the investigation while the INEC boss would make recommendations.
A source at the EFCC said, “You will recall that the EFCC started investigating the INEC officials in the South-South in March and we arrested several officials, including the Resident Electoral Commissioner in Rivers State during the 2015 election, Gesila Khan.
“However, further investigations revealed that the bribery took place across Nigeria and so, all the EFCC zonal offices started conducting investigations simultaneously.
“We have sent reports to the chairman and he is expected to meet with the INEC chairman on Thursday. Some of the electoral officials were not INEC employees but ad hoc staff. Some of the officials collected money through their bank accounts while some collected cash.”
The EFCC had, in April, arrested the Resident Electoral Commissioner in the 2015 elections in Rivers State, Mrs. Gesila Khan, and other officials of INEC that conducted elections in Delta an Akwa Ibom states.
Khan had been quizzed by the Department of State Services in July last year but was never charged.
The residences of all the suspects were subsequently searched and incriminating documents were recovered by the commission.
According to impeccable sources at the EFCC, Khan, who is now the REC in Cross River State, allegedly received N185.8m ahead of the March 28 and April 11, 2015 elections.
A source alleged that Khan received the money through a special bank account and the commission had received overwhelming evidence.
The source also revealed that the EFCC had arrested one Fidelia Omoile who was the INEC electoral officer in Isoko-South Local Government Area of Delta State.
Apart from tracing over N112.4m to her, the commission also recovered some sensitive electoral materials during a search of her apartments in Edo and Delta states.
The commission also arrested one Oluchi Obi Brown who was the INEC administrative secretary in Delta State. She allegedly received over N111.5m.
Further investigations by detectives revealed that Brown had about $75,000 in an account in the United States.
The anti-graft agency also arrested one Edem Okon Effanga, who is a retired INEC official. Effanga was arrested alongside his alleged accomplice, Immaculata Asuquo, who is the Head, Voter Education, INEC, Akwa Ibom State.
Effanga was alleged to have received over N241.1m which he shared among INEC ad hoc workers during the last election.
Also in Gombe State, 11 electoral officers that worked in Gombe State during the 2015 general election, admitted to receiving N120m out of the N23bn.
Sources at the EFCC told our correspondent that the 11 officials in Gombe State had been interrogated and had made confessional statements.
A detective at the anti-graft agency disclosed to our correspondent that the electoral officers, who were in charge of the 11 local government areas of Gombe State, reported at the Gombe State zonal office of the commission on Thursday.
The electoral officer for Akko LGA, Ahmed Biu; and the one in charge of Gombe Local Government Area, Mohammed Zannah, allegedly admitted to have collected the bribe from one Yunusa Biri, also a retired electoral officer who acted as Gombe State coordinator of bribes for electoral officers in the state.
The detective gave the names of some other detained officers as: Godwin Maiyaki, Gambo Balanga, Bukar Benisheik, Dukku, Jibril Muhammed, Billiri, Dunguma Dogona, Funakaye, Mohammed Wanka, Kaltungo, Ishaku Yusuf, Kwami, Suleiman Isawa, Babagana Malami, Shongom, and Nuhu Samuel.