Re-run elections: Rivers govt bribed 23 polls officials with N360m – Police

Please follow and like us:

  • 0
  • Share

By Kingsley Omonobi, Davies Iheamnachor & Omeiza Ajayi
ABUJA — The panel set up by the Inspector-General of Police, IGP, Mr Ibrahim Idris, to probe the December 10, 2016 re-run elections in Rivers State, said, yesterday, that an alleged sum of N360 million was given as bribe by the state government to 23 electoral officers to influence the election.

Rivers State government in a swift reaction, dismissed the money evidence presented to the police panel as a cheap blackmail, even as the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, welcomed the police panel report, saying it would help it cleanse its system.

Money allegedly recovered from INEC Electoral Officials by the I-G’s committee set up to investigate Electoral Offences and Other Violent Acts during the Re-Run Rivers State Parliamentary Election held December 10, 2016, displayed by the committee during presentation of its report to I-G Ibrahim Idris in Abuja, yesterday. Photo. Gbemiga Olamikan.

Meanwhile, presenting the report of the joint Police and Department of State Security, DSS, team, led by Mr Damian Okoro, a Deputy Commissioner of Police in Abuja yesterday, it said out of the alleged N360m bribe, N111million and N300,000 were recovered from the electoral officers.

Okoro said investigations revealed that each electoral officer got N15m, while the three senior electoral officers for the senatorial zones received an extra N5m each which brought the total to N360m.

Giving details of the investigation, Mr Okoro said: “We discovered that failure of leadership and followership, rather than law enforcement, was responsible for political upheaval in the state.

“There was, however, some cases of misconduct on the part of some electoral officers and law enforcement agents, who unfortunately allowed themselves to be compromised in their line of duties and deserve to be disciplined appropriately.”

Responding after receiving the report, the IG, Mr Ibrahim Idris disclosed that a report on the findings of the investigation will be made to the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation for further action regarding prosecution.

“This investigation will put an end to do-or-die politics that is hampering democracy in Nigeria. It will put an end to misconduct among security agents and even among electoral officers especially the killing of security agents who are not politicians but only doing their job.”

Idris vowed that appropriate actions will be taken against those indicted, noting that the six police officers (Governor Wike’s security details) earlier dismissed for misconduct, will be prosecuted.

Reminded that Governor Wike and Rivers State government had alleged the panel had a pre-conceived plan which may have cast doubts on its findings, the IG said:  “As for the governor of Rivers State, this is democracy, there is freedom of speech, and everybody has freedom to say anything he likes. The panel went to meet him and in his wisdom, he refused to co-operate.

“But the investigation is a joint investigation of both the Police and the DSS. I believe Nigerian citizens will have confidence in the outcome of the investigation. Aside the security agencies, the office of the Attorney-General will be involved. You cannot say these three agencies of arrest, investigation and prosecution cannot be relied on.”

Reiterating that the level of indictment according to the report of the investigation cuts across all politicians, INEC and security agents, the IG expressed sadness that officers lost their lives in the election.

“Imagine two police officers being killed and beheaded. You need to see the gory pictures. I want to assure you that whoever is involved in the barbaric killings, whether political parties, INEC officials or even the police, they will face the music. But I see the police investigation panel as a corrective panel,” he said.

The panel sitting in Abuja had showcased cash running into millions as money Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State allegedly paid to over 23 staff of INEC, as bribe to rig the election.

Cheap blackmail, says Gov Wike

However, Rivers State government and Governor Wike dismissed the report as a cheap blackmail.

The governor, who spoke through his media aide, Mr Simeon Nwakaudu,  said that the alleged lie by the IG was another move to divert attention from  alleged failure by the Police to assassinate the governor during the last re-run elections

“For the  avoidance of doubt, Governor Wike did not spend N360m to rig the  re-run legislative elections of December 10, 2016. The people of Rivers State overwhelmingly voted the PDP across the state because of the outstanding performance of Wike since May 29, 2015.

“The drama at the press conference convened  by the IG Investigative Panel and the IG  reveals the script being acted by the Police High Command, which is now obviously an arm of the ruling APC,” he said

The governor reiterated that a Police officer was allegedly caught on camera brutalizing a staff of INEC with an intention to rig results of the Rivers East senatorial  elections in favour of the APC, yet same had been swept under the carpet.

He recalled a case where a printer was caught allegedly printing fake results sheets ahead of the re-run elections in the state, adding that the police also swept the issue under the carpet.

Wike said he was surprised that the IG  at the  press briefing was silent on the killers of DSP Muhammed Alkali, adding that the lies of  the Police will not shore up the Force’s image.

Police allegations shameful — RVSG

Money allegedly recovered from INEC Electoral Officials by the I-G’s committee set up to investigate Electoral Offences and Other Violent Acts during the Re-Run Rivers State Parliamentary Election held December 10, 2016, displayed by the committee during presentation of its report to I-G Ibrahim Idris in Abuja, yesterday. Photo. Gbemiga Olamikan.

Rivers State Government in a statement yesterday in Port Harcourt, by the Commissioner for Information and Communications, Dr Austin Tam-George, described the allegation as shameful.

He said, “We consider the allegations of the Police as shameful, defamatory and reckless in the extreme. Never in the annals of infamy have we seen a vital state security institution descend to the lowest depths of blackmail and criminality, as the Nigeria Police Force has done in this case.

“A month ago, we alerted the world to the dark, Orwellian plot by the Nigeria Police to implicate Governor Wike in a phoney bribe scandal. Now, the Police appear to be acting with shocking predictability, by making wild and completely groundless allegations against Wike.”

Tam-George urged the police to come up with evidence of individuals who Wike had induced with the alleged recovered fund.

He said that the Police were seeking to divert attention from the disgraceful and criminal roles they played during the election, adding that the state would not succumb to the antics of the All Progressives Congress, APC and the police.

“The Rivers State Government challenges the Nigeria Police to show proof that Governor Wike financially induced any official of INEC. Does the Police have bank records of the purported transactions between Governor Wike and the Electoral Officers? We challenge the Nigeria Police to move quickly to prosecute and imprison the so-called Electoral Officers on the basis of this dubious investigation.

“We strongly believe that the police panel is part of a bitter, politically-driven smear campaign launched by the Federal Government against Governor Wike, and the people of Rivers State.”

Report’ll help cleanse our system — INEC

On its part, INEC welcomed the report of the Police investigative panel into the last legislative re-run elections in Rivers State in which 23 of its personnel were accused of taking bribes.

INEC said though it was yet to formally receive the police report, its details would help in the commission’s ongoing effort to clean the system.

Speaking with Vanguard in Abuja, Chief Press Secretary to the INEC Chairman, Mr Rotimi Oyekanmi said the commission was continuing with its own internal investigation into the exercise, vowing to sanction any of its staff found culpable.

“Although, INEC is yet to formally receive a report from the Police on its investigation into Rivers Re-run elections, the revelation that money was allegedly recovered from INEC officials is a welcome development.

‘’ This will help the Commission in its current effort to clean up the system. Already, our internal panel is also continuing with its investigation on the same issue, and anybody found culpable will face appropriate sanctions.”

Vanguard was told that some of the electoral officers initially denied knowledge of the alleged bribe but that one Shettima who is a senior electoral officer owned up when confronted with evidence.

The INEC officer then gave details of how the money was shared and the recoveries later made.

The 23 INEC officers were subsequently arrested, detained and after making confessional statements, released on bail pending further investigations.

Vanguard  learned that during the recoveries, some INEC officers returned N15m out of N20m, some returned N7m out of N15m, some returned N2. 5m, N3.5m and N4million as many had bought cars; some completed their houses while some made  investments with their payouts.

Facebook Comments

Please follow and like us:

  • 0
  • Share

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *