Resident Electoral Commissioners of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) are threatening to expose state governors and top government officials offering them bribes.
According to the RECs, who spoke to The Punch in separate interviews, their duty was to ensure the credibility of the forthcoming general elections in the interests of peaceful co-existence in the country, vowing that they would reject all bribes that come in the form of gifts.
The Kwara state REC, Dr Emmanuel Onucheyo, said he was not ready to receive any gifts from any politician, including the state governor, as such gifts were meant to compromise and influence the election results.
He explained that there are many gadgets that will expose any INEC official who collects bribes, and the INEC had made a lot of provisions for the RECs such that none of them should be tempted to receive any gifts.
The Ekiti state REC, Sam Olumekun said: “It is unimaginable for a governor or any politician to give monetary or non-monetary gifts to a REC or his spouse, especially when elections are around the corner. We should think about the people, no governor would offer me such gift and I won’t accept if offered.
“The commission has advised officials to stay away from politicians. INEC is determined to conduct a transparent and credible election; we will not be distracted. Our conscience will not be for sale.”
Rufus Akeju, the Oyo state REC, cautioned his colleagues to be wary of their relationship with governors, saying, “If we are seeking free and fair elections, we should be mindful of our position and relationship with politicians. The policy is that you don’t meet anyone for anything.”
In one of the South-South states controlled by the PDP, a former REC (identity withheld) had rejected an expensive car and lavish accommodation presented to him on his assumption of office in 2010. The then chief of staff to the governor, who is currently aspiring to election to the National Assembly, had approached the REC and made the presentation which included a cash gift running into millions of naira, but the concerned REC turned down the offer.
The Ondo state REC, Olusegun Agbaje, said he would not hesitate to expose any politician who attempts to compromise him.
He said: “Any form of gifts or favour at this time when election is at hand is unacceptable. A politician or a governor who has not talked to you before and now calls you to give you a favour or gifts, you should know there is something fishy about that and we have to be careful.
“If any politician offers me a gift I will expose him, at least to my organisation because such gifts or favours could also be used as blackmail. So, it is better to make it known in the interest of the integrity of INEC. My spouse is not here with me and I don’t see anyone trying to reach her with gifts. That is even not possible, I will not allow that.”
The Kano state REC, Alhaji Mukaila Abdullahi, said he would be guided by the law of the land which forbids the collecting and giving of gifts in a period like this.
In Ogun state, REC Timothy Ibitoye said no politician had offered him any gifts since he was posted to the state late last year, adding that he did not require any gifts from any politician because he is a contented person.
The Delta state REC, Anidi Ikowak, pointed out that INEC officials who compromised their positions during the electoral process would be dismissed.
The Niger state REC, Nasir Olarewaju Ayilara said: “It is wrong to collect gifts from politicians; it is not normal but what is very clear is that there is no way a REC can perform his job without having to deal with the state government. So, the office cannot be an island, but one should be mindful of the relationship between the government and the INEC.”
The general elections are only a week away. A week before the elections scheduled for February 14, the INEC announced a shift in the general elections dates to March 28 and April 11 after a meeting with political stakeholders in Abuja a week before the previous election dates.
However, the INEC chairman Attahiru Jega has said the commission is now ready and prepared to conduct the re-scheduled 2015 general elections.