Police recover N111m from 23 INEC officials for Rivers rerun
An investigative report submitted yesterday to the Inspector General of Police (IGP) Ibrahim Idris has accused Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike of giving N360 million bribe to electoral officials to rig the December 10, 2016 legislative elections in the state.
The chairman of the 15-member Special Joint Investigative Panel, made up of officers from the Nigerian Police and the Department of State Services (DSS), DCP Damian Okoro, said of the N360 million, N111, 300,000 had been recovered from 23 Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) officials.
He said three Senior Electoral Officers (EOs) admitted receiving the money directly from Governor Wike. The EOs were present at the Police Force Headquarters during the presentation of the panel report and exhibition of the recovered bribe money in Abuja yesterday.
Okoro, without mentioning their names said they were the team leaders who collected the money from the Governor and shared with their colleagues on electoral duty in Rivers state.
He said the three senior EOs were given N20 million each while twenty others got N15 million each, out of which N111, 300,000 was recovered and displayed at the Police Headquarters.
He also said the panel discovered that failure of leadership and followership rather than law enforcement was responsible for political upheaval and violence during the Rivers State re-run legislative elections.
He noted that the electoral violence was funded by desperate politicians who sponsored militant groups to not only target their political opponents but also law enforcement agents, including the Police, mostly within Ogba/Ndoni/Egbema Local Government Area “ONELGA.”
In his remarks, the Inspector General of Police (IGP) Ibrahim Idris said the INEC officials arrested in connection with electoral malpractices in the Rivers State rerun election would be prosecuted.
He said the findings of the panel and a police report would be forwarded to the Attorney General of the Federation, adding that the necessary action would be taken.
Fielding questions from journalists, Idris said six police men also indicted by the panel over electoral malpractice during the election had been dismissed from the police and would be prosecuted in court.
He also dismissed comments earlier in the media attributed to Governor Wike, declaring a lack of confidence in the investigative panel.
“On the issue of the comment of the Governor, you know this is democracy, everybody has the right to free speech, anybody can wake up and say anything, but you have to go through this investigative report and look at the processes we have taken to arrive at where we are,” he said.
He added that: “It’s an open investigation, very open, they went to the Governor and in his own wisdom he refused to cooperate.
“An election that led to the killing of two police officers, beheaded because they went to ensure peaceful election, it is barbaric, we have to put to an end such activities, and whoever is involved, either police officers or INEC officials.”
He said: “We are delighted this morning and the panel has made history in this country, the investigation terms of reference tackles what has been wrong in this country, where politicians have turned elections into a do or die affair.
“This investigation is going to go a long way to put to an end to a situation where individuals treat elections like a do or die affair; I believe we are going to see an end to this kind of conduct.”
Show proof of financial inducement – Rivers govt
Rivers State government has challenged the Nigerian Police force to show proof that Governor Nyesom Wike financially induced any INEC official.
Rivers State Commissioner of Information, Dr Tam George in reaction to Police allegation that Wike induced INEC officials with sums of N360m said the State government considered the allegations of Police as ‘’shameful, defamatory and reckless in the extreme’’.
“The attention of Rivers State government has been drawn to the melodramatic images of heaps of cash circulated in the media by the so called Police panel of inquiry into the rerun elections in Rivers State. Rivers State government challenge the Police to show proof that Governor Wike financially induced any INEC official,” he said.
He challenged the Police to move quickly to ‘’prosecute and imprison the so called electoral officers on the bases of this dubious investigation we strongly believe that the Police is part of a bitter, politically driven smear campaign launched by the federal government’’.
He said the Police allegation was aimed at covering the alleged atrocities it committed during the December 10th rerun election.
We are yet to receive panel report on Rivers rerun- INEC
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) yesterday said it was yet to officially receive report of the panel constituted to investigate the electoral and other offences allegedly perpetrated during the December 10 Rivers Parliamentary re-run election which said it recovered N111 million from 23 INEC officials.
Contacted on telephone, spokesman of INEC, Mr. Nick Dazang said: “That is news to me; I am just hearing it from you.”
Dazang, however, said the Commission would make its position known as soon as it gets details of the panel’s report.