Contrary to police report that indicted only the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP)-led Rivers state government for attempting to manipulate 23 electoral officers through bribery in the last re-run election, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said that the attempt was made by no less than two political parties,
This was disclosed by the INEC Director of Voter Education and Publicity, Oluwole Osaze-Uzzi in Abuja while providing details contained in the recently released report of the administrative panel investigating the rerun election.
Osaze-Uzzi said that the commission had evidence of certain staff allegedly being partisan in a way that suggested partisanship from the two major political parties in the country and not one; adding that it was wrong for electoral officers to collect money from people affiliated to either of the political parties.
He admitted that some INEC staff were also indicted for acts which amounted to serious misconduct; acts of negligence, and other administrative issues ran contrary to the commission’s guidelines, stressing that the misconduct did not affect the outcome of the rerun polls.
The INEC spokesman also said some of the misconducts ran contrary to the Criminal Code, and those acts were left to the police to investigate and prosecute.
He added that the commission had learnt its own lessons but that some of the allegations would be tested in court to know if there would be convictions or not.He further noted that INEC would send its report to the Attorney-General, who would give advice and possibly prosecute the indicted officials.
Osaze-Uzzi said: “There was evidence of certain staff allegedly being partisan in a way that suggested partisanship from the two major political parties not one.
“We did not find any evidence that this influenced the actual outcome of the election. There are times that we have had people taking money and still doing job. We should not take money in the first place from politicians, the only money you are entitled to take is the one provided by the headquarters of the commission.
“We discovered that there were acts which amounted to serious misconduct; acts of negligence, the movement of funds from the national to the state headquarters, a lot of administrative issues and the conduct of our staff were apparently contrary to our guidelines. Some were contrary to the Electoral Act others to the Criminal Code, and that is left to the police. “In one of the earlier reports, we said we are going to send to the Attorney-General, who would give advice and possibly prosecute.
“I think the report said several parties at least two major political parties wanted to influence our staff as far as I know of that report. The report was not about apportioning blame but also giving responsibility and commending security forces, ad-hoc staff, collation officers, and staff of the Michael Okpara University who did very well, so it was not a fault-finding on what went wrong and what went right. So it was just an administrative enquiry.
“INEC has learnt its own lessons. Some things did not go as planned; some things did not go well. But we have to be extremely careful. There are certain allegations and the special administrative panel has released a report of its own investigation which are not yet tested. Until, you test those things, there is no certainty that because has been produced, there would be convictions. There may be conviction and there might not be convictions. I don’t know of that.
“Different people not engaged in the earlier exercise are going to come for the Etche rerun in Rivers state, and we’ll screen carefully those who are going to partake in the exercise.”