INEC bribe takers should face EFCC probe –Chairman

The Independent National Electoral Commission has appealed to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to fish out bribe takers in the commission.

It also called on the anti-graft agency to equally move against those who offered bribes to the workers of the commission.

Chairman of the commission, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, also assured the people that INEC would cooperate with the EFCC in sanitising the system following the recent bribery allegations against some staff of the commission.

The chairman was said to have spoken at a meeting he had with some journalists in Lagos.

In a bulletin of the commission, which was made available to our correspondent in Abuja on Monday, Yakubu promised that the commission would not cover up anyone found culpable in the bribe saga.

Some Resident Electoral Commissioners and other officials of the commission have been alleged to have received millions of naira in bribes during the 2015 general elections.

Yakubu said his commission would work with the EFCC to punish the affected officers.

He said, “Whatever level of cooperation any of the agencies requires of the commission, we will give that level of cooperation because it is also in a bid to sanitise the system.

“I hope also it will extend to the givers not just the takers so that there will be collective sanity.

“Whoever violates the law of this land and there are questions to answer, the person should answer, the person should bear his own cross.”

He said he was happy that the bribery issue didn’t affect the commission as an institution.

The chairman added, “All the staff that are fingered are individuals. It is not a collective institutional thing.

“They should go and answer for what they have alleged to have done.”

Investigations by our correspondent on the bribery issue at the commission’s headquarters in Abuja on Monday, indicated that the affected members of staff might be suspended pending the outcome of investigations into the allegations of their involvement in the matter.

A national commissioner at the commission, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the commission would use service rule to deal with the affected officers.

He said, “It is the rule in the civil service that when an officer is being investigated for allegations based on criminality, such officer will be placed on an indefinite suspension.

“That rule was used during the regime of the former Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega.

“That same rule will be used in this case, but we have to meet to determine those to be suspended.”

Yakubu was also quoted in the bulletin to have disclosed that 12 million Permanent Voter Cards were yet to be collected.

He said, “We have a little over 70 million registered voters in Nigeria.

“We have 12 million Permanent Voter Cards uncollected and we have at least 700,000 PVCs unprinted and then we have a large number of Nigerians who are not registered and they have come of age”.

He disclosed that the commission would commence the Continuous Voter Registration for the Edo and Ondo governorship elections before the National Continuous Voter Registration.

“I think we all agree that with the introduction of Card Reader, no matter the imperfections of the Card Reader and the introduction of the Permanent Voter Card as a complement to the Card Reader, we have greatly sanitised the process. But we need to go further,” he said.

The chairman of the electoral body further disclosed that the commission would enhance the electoral process by introducing new technology in the collation and transmission of election results in order to make the process free, fair, credible and fast.

He also insisted that Nigerian elections conducted under his watch were getting better and the votes were counting.

Yakubu stated, “If you simply compare the outcome of previous elections with the elections we conducted recently, you can very clearly see how the elections are getting better and how the margin is becoming even smaller. Votes are also counting today more than ever before”.

He added that elections were now keenly contested with slim margins of victory, unlike in previous ones which were won with landslide margins.

“Across all the elections, including the 2015 presidential election, the margin between the candidate, who eventually won and the runner-up was 2.5 million. This is the slimmest margin since 1999,” he said

He decried the spate of electoral violence, which, he said, contributed to the inconclusiveness of elections in Nigeria.

He referred to sections of the law that gave credence to the decision to halt some of the elections that had been termed inconclusive.

Yakubu regretted that the do-or-die mentality of the political class had not changed as it affected the outcome of elections.

“But because the elections have become competitive, the parties are also strong, the do-or-die mentality of the political class hasn’t changed and that is what has been affecting our elections,” he said.

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