Over N1billion cash illegally deployed in the 2015 election has been refunded.
The cash came from some former ministers, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) officials, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leaders and coordinators of some election observer groups, The Nation learnt yesterday.
More than N2billion has been frozen in many accounts by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission(EFCC).
The cash is part of the N23.29billion allegedly pumped into the failed bid to get former President Goodluck Jonathan re-elected by bribing INEC officials. It allegedly came from a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke.
There are also refund pledges running into billions of naira, a source said.
The latest of such refunds came yesterday from two former ministers, three INEC officials and a coordinator of election observers who paid back N62,750,000 to the EFCC.
Besides, no fewer than 36 INEC officials have been implicated in the campaign cash fraud. According to a source, who pleaded not to be named because he is not authorised to speak to the media, the EFCC has recovered more than N1billion cash from those who shared in the bribe.
The source said: “In all the six geopolitical zones, most of those quizzed have admitted benefiting in one way or the other from the cash. “Our investigation revealed that there appears to be a pattern of allocating about N450million to each of the 36 states and FCT.
“Some of the beneficiaries have paid back; others made pledges and some are still meeting in groups to refund what was allocated to them. “So far, we have recovered over N1billion in cash and more than N2billion frozen in some accounts nationwide.
“We have given them deadline and they seem to be willing to pay back.”
The Nation stumbled on a document in which some of the refunds are listed. They include N359millon by some INEC staff in Oyo and Ogun states; a former Minister of Labour and Productivity, Sen. Joel Ikenya Danlami (N2m); ex-Speaker of Taraba State House of Assembly Mark Bako Useni (N1m); ex-Minister of Power Wakil Muhammad (N6,680,000); ex-Minister of Science and Technology Abdu Bulama (N5m); Muhammed Kadai(N1m); the Coordinator of observers in Maiduguri, Jummai Lawan Ibrahim(N19m); and a former INEC official, Bunu Mulina (N6m).
Others are INEC officials, including Mohammad Umar ( N17m); Kabir Bello (N5m); and Musa Buba Amshi (N4m); Senator Kumo Saidu Umar and ex-PDP Chairman in Gombe State, Paloma Nuhu N4million( N2 million each) which they claimed to be their personal benefits from the fund.
The latest of such refund (N62, 750,000) came yesterday from Maiduguri zonal office.
The source said: “In continuation of the ongoing investigation of some INEC officials in Maiduguri and two former ministers, the Advance Fee Fraud/Extractive Industries Unit handling the investigation was able to recover N62,750,000.
“Investigation is ongoing in the matter as other people are expected to come for questioning. The serving INEC officials are detained in the EFCC office.”
There were indications yesterday that the number of serving INEC officials quizzed by the EFCC on the scandal has risen to 36.
They comprise 16 top directors at the headquarters, a Resident Electoral Commissioner(REC), Gesil Khan and five others from Cross River; 11 in Gombe State, were grilled at the Gombe State Zonal office of the EFCC; and three detained in Borno.
Grilled are 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 INEC in Cross River State, Edem Okon Effanga—N241,127,000 and the Head of Voter Education in INEC in Akwa Ibom, Immaculata Asuquo—N214,127,000.
A retired INEC official, Sani Isa, was grilled for alleged N406,206,000 bribe allegedly collected on behalf of the deceased Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Kano State, Alhaji Mukaila Abdullahi. Those grilled in Gombe are: 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.
The EFCC source said: “So far, we have questioned more than 36 INEC staff but we are still counting. We are expecting more names from our zonal offices in Port Harcourt, Enugu, Gombe, Kano and Lagos.
“At the end of our investigation, we will refer the list of those indicted to INEC management for appropriate disciplinary action.
“This is without prejudice to the fact that the law will take its course. Some of the INEC officials may face trial.”