N23bn Diezani Bribe: 11 INEC Officials Admit Receiving N120m
Eleven officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission who supervised the 2015 general elections in Gombe State have admitted to receiving N120m out of the N23bn ($115m) allegedly disbursed by a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, according to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
The affected staff, who were electoral officers in charge of the 11 local government areas of Gombe State, were grilled at the Gombe State Zonal office of the EFCC.
Most of them admitted to have benefitted from the bribe sum which was routed through a retired Electoral Officer, Yunusa Ali Biri.
Those quizzed were: Godwin Maiyaki Gambo Balanga, Bukar Alone Benisheik, Dukku, Jibril. B. Muhammed,Billiri, Dunguma Musa Dogona, Funakaye, Mohammed. A. Wanka, Kaltungo, Ishaku Yusuf, Kwami, Suleiman Isawa, Nafada, Babagana Malami, Shongom, and Nuhu Samuel, Y/Deba.
With the latest bend of the investigation, the number of INEC staff so far interrogated is 33.
The EFCC kad more than a month ago arrested a former Resident Electoral Commissioner in Rivers State, Mrs. Gesila Khan, and other top INEC officials in the South-South for allegedly receiving N675.1m from Diezani.
A top source, who spoke with our correspondent, said: “We have interrogated 11 electoral officers over N120million bribes they allegedly received from some politicians to undermine electoral process in the 2015 election conducted by the commission.
“The staff, who were all electoral officers in charge of the eleven local government areas of Gombe State, reported at Gombe State Zonal Office of the commission yesterday.
“They had made useful statements, and most had confessed to receiving millions of naira for their local government areas from two of them who negotiated and collected the bribe on their behalf.
“The electoral officers for the Akko Local Government Area and Gombe Local Government Area, Ahmed Ali Biu and Mohammed.B.Zannah, admitted to have collected the bribe from one Yunusa Ali Biri, also a retired electoral officer who acted as Gombe State coordinator of bribes for electoral officers in the state.
“Biri was known and addressed as coordinator of NGO, a euphemism or code, used to cover the activities of the two parties.
“At the meeting of the state coordinator, Biu, and Zannah at the Electoral Officers’ Lodge at Corner Alheri, opposite the NNPC mega station in Gombe.
“The parties agreed to share the bribe per polling unit in each local government area and part of the bribe should go to the ad hoc staff employed and deployed to each polling station across the state.
“However, the commission would have to unravel the discrepancy in the amount collected and the actual money disbursed to the electoral officers.
“ Some claimed that the coordinator short-changed them because he gave only N88million (N8million each) to the eleven local government areas in the state.”
The number of the INEC staff grilled by the EFCC has now risen to 33, including 16 directors, at the commission’s headquarters in Abuja and a Resident Electoral Commissioner(REC), Gesil Khan, and five others.
The EFCC has been probing the embattled former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, on her alleged involvement in a $115million (N23, 299,705,000billion) 2015 poll bribery scandal.
About four oil firms, 14 directors of oil companies, two banks and INEC officers have been grilled.
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 the INEC in Cross River State, Edem Okon Effanga—N241,127,000 and the Head of Voter Education in the INEC in Akwa Ibom, Immaculata Asuquo—N214,127,000.
Also, a retired INEC employee, Sani Isa, was grilled over alleged N 406,206,000 bribe sum allegedly collected on behalf of the deceased Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Kano State, Alhaji Mukaila Abdullahi.