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Government & Politics

INEC REC returns N20 million poll bribe after EFCC investigation

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Abia State Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) Sylvester Ezeani has refunded N20million to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The cash is part of the N23.29billion bribe given to Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) officials to change the results of the 2015 election.

Three RECs have been named in the scandal. One of them is dead.

The EFCC has seized two choice shopping malls from a REC Gesil Khan.

Besides, the account of the REC with about N59million has been frozen by the anti-graft agency.

A retired INEC official, Sani Isa, was questioned for N406,206,000 bribe allegedly collected on behalf of the deceased REC in Kano State, Alhaji Mukaila Abdullahi.

The number of INEC staff invited and questioned by the EFCC has risen to 100.

INEC is awaiting a comprehensive brief from the anti-graft agency on the affected staff, it was learnt that only President Muhammadu Buhari can determine the fate of the RECs.

Ezeani’s N20million came from the $115m(N23.29billion) which former Minister of Petroleum Resources Diezani Alison-Madueke is said to have provided.

A source in EFCC, who spoke in confidence, said: “Faced by overwhelming evidence from our team, Ezeani has refunded to the commission N20million, which was traced to him.

“About N241million was allocated to INEC when Ezeani was the REC in Cross River State during the 2015 poll.

“We are working on other INEC staff to refund the cash credited to them from the slush funds. So far, about N503million has been recovered from INEC staff and politicians involved in the poll bribery scandal in Port Harcourt Zone alone.

“We are determined to retrieve a huge chunk of the N23.29billion bribe.”

Meanwhile, the number of INEC staff quizzed by EFCC on the poll bribery cash has risen to about 100.

A source in INEC said: “At least about 100 staff of this commission have either been invited or interrogated by the EFCC as part of its ongoing investigation. T5he number could be higher than the current figure because investigation is still in progress.

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“It is too early to say that these staff have been indicted or not by the EFCC. We are however awaiting a comprehensive brief from the anti-graft commission on its findings on each of the affected staff.

“Do not forget that some of them even serve as witnesses for EFCC, depending on the circumstances of their postings during the poll.”

Responding to a question, the source added: “Staff found guilty of infractions will be subjected to the civil service rules and regulations on disciplinary action.”

Another INEC source spoke on reports on some RECs but “there is nothing the Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmoud Yakubu or the management can do.

“The appointment of National Commissioners and RECs is at the behest of President Muhammadu Buhari. What INEC management can do is to forward the EFCC’s report on any REC to the President who has the powers to appoint or remove such officer.

“So, the Presudent will determine the fate of RECs implicated in the scandal if they are found culpable.”

About four oil firms, 14 directors of oil companies, two banks and 100 INEC officials, including RECs are under investigation too.

Some INEC officers already grilled are REC Gesil Khan for collecting N185, 842,000 out of a N681million bribe deal; Fidelia Omoile( Electoral Officer in Isoko-South Local Government Area of Delta State)—N112,480,000 ; Uluochi Obi Brown( INEC’s Administrative Secretary in Delta State)—N111,500,000; a former Deputy Director of INEC in Cross River state, Edem Okon Effanga—N241,127,000 and others.

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