By Ikechukwu Okaforadi with agency report
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has disclosed that no fewer than 30 of its staff have been sacked between 2011 and 2014 for allegedly aiding electoral malpractices in the various elections conducted in the country.
PREMIUM TIMES reported that sixteen of the dismissed staff were punished for their alleged involvement in election-related offences in Anambra state, the South-East state which elections are usually tainted by rigging and thuggery.
Other states whose elections led to the dismissal of INEC officials, are Imo (3), Edo (1), Zamfara (1), FCT (1), Delta (1), Oyo (2), Rivers (1), Lagos (1), and Osun (2).
A staff based at the INEC Headquarters in Abuja was also sacked for allegedly colluding with politicians to perpetrate electoral fraud.
Besides, the Commission is prosecuting nine out of its 12 staff apprehended for committing various forms of electoral offences during the governorship elections in six states.
Two out of the 12 electoral offenders have been discharged and acquitted while one was convicted.
According to a letter to a civil society group, Say No Campaign, in response to a Freedom of Information request, INEC said those dismissed or whose appointments were terminated committed offences such as refusal to carry out lawful duties and misleading the Commission, misconduct, disappearance with money meant for payment of allowances of ad-hoc staff, withholding ballot papers, manipulation of election results and possession of DDC machines.
Others offences listed are allegation of illegal entries in the register of voters and attempt to make use of left-over money.
The letter, dated July 14 and signed by the Secretary to the Commission, Augusta Ogakwu, was in response to a request by the civil group on June 9 in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act, for the list of the electoral offenders.
Say No Campaign is a coalition of civil society organisations committed to fighting corruption, impunity, poverty, violence and other governance challenges in the country.
According to the document, made exclusively available to PREMIUM TIMES, the 16 officials axed in connection with the Anambra election committed the same offence: “Allegation of wrong entries in the register of voters.”
All 16 staff, who were either electoral officers or those drawn from ICT and Audit Units of the election body for election duty, had their appointments terminated by the Commission.
The remaining 14 staff were either compulsorily retired or dismissed in 2011.
The most senior officer among them who hails from in Imo State was on Grade Level 16. He was retired for “refusal to carry out lawful directives and misleading the Commission.”
Another officer dismissed while on Grade Level 15 is from Edo State. He was found guilty of wrongful recruitment and deployment of a collation officer whose name was given as Dr. Paul.