By Harrison Arubu
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Thursday said some of its staff accused of benefitting from a N3.4 billion bribe money in the 2015 general elections have refunded their share.
The INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmud Yakubu, disclosed this when he visited the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr Ibrahim Magu, in Abuja.
A statement by spokesman of the EFCC, Mr Wilson Uwujaren, quoted the INEC chairman as saying that 70 of the affected staff in three states were still in denial.
Yakubu, according to Uwujaren, said they would be referred to the EFCC for further investigation.
The INEC chairman also said about five INEC political appointees, who are either National Commissioners or Resident Commissioners, were found wanting.
Also indicted, he said, are 21 retired staff mostly acting under the aegis of WANEO (West African Network of Election Observers).
Yakubu said 21 retirees had been blacklisted from monitoring elections and other activities organised by INEC in the future, according to Uwujaren.
“If we get our election right, we get our democracy right as the right people will be elected and once we get our democracy right we will get national progress and development on track.
“INEC is on the same page with the EFCC in this big responsibility of sanitising the country,’’ the INEC chairman was quoted saying.
Responding, Magu was said to have expressed the anti-graft agency’s readiness to prosecute all the indicted INEC staff.
“We are already prosecuting some of the INEC staff, we have started in Lagos and we are in the process in Port-Harcourt, Kano and Gombe,’’ Magu reportedly said.
While expressing satisfaction with the collaboration between both agencies, Magu commended the INEC boss for supporting the investigation involving some of his staff members.
He said: “What you have done will change the course of electioneering in this country, by bringing in sanity and credibility.
“It will send a signal and serve as deterrent to any person who may wish to perpetrate fraud in the electoral process whether as a monitor or staff of INEC.’’
Magu assured INEC of continued support from the EFCC, noting that the agency’s functions are central to the future of the country, and that the next election must be different.
Uwujaren said the INEC boss was accompanied on the visit by other management staff of the commission, including Hajiya Amina Zakari, Mr Baba Shetima and Prof. Okey Ibeanu.