EFCC Tinubu

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission on Saturday arrested about 69 persons for alleged voters’ inducement while monitoring the governorship and state Assembly elections. The EFCC arrested 65 persons while the ICPC arrested four persons.

The ICPC said it arrested four vote-buyers in Sokoto and Katsina states. Sunday PUNCH had reported that the commission arrested nine vote-buyers in Osun, Ondo, Borno, Akwa Ibom and Sokoto states during the February 25 presidential and National Assembly elections.

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On Saturday, however, the spokesperson for the ICPC, Azuka Ogugua, said officials of the commission encountered some vote-buyers at Kauran Miyo Primary School in Bodingo, Bodinga Local Government Area of Sokoto State.

She noted that the Sokoto State monitoring team of the commission arrested three male vote-buyers. She added, “Mahe Bello was caught in possession of a cash sum of N38,000, two PVCs, one ATM card and an Infinix phone, while Musa Adamu had CFA228,000 in his possession which was being offered to voters, while the third suspect, Mustapha Mohammed, was arrested with some PVCs in his possession.”

She said the ICPC monitoring team came under attack while carrying out the arrest. She said an officer of the commission, Rabiu Ibrahim, who suffered a head injury from being hit by stones, had been admitted into a hospital and in a stable condition.

In a related development, the ICPC election monitoring team in Katsina State arrested a 35-year-old Tanimu Tabale for vote-buying at Tashar Yamma Polling Unit in Zango LGA.

It said Tabale claimed he was an observer in Makama Polling Unit but was arrested at Tashar Yamma Polling Unit with N20,000 in different denominations attempting to buy the votes of the electorate.

Meanwhile, the statement said one of the ICPC monitoring teams in Delta state rescued a female voter, Oge Nwaomose, from mob action by agents of some parties who accused her of vote-buying.

She added, “During a search conducted on her, the sum of N6,000 in N500 denomination was found on her. Her statement was obtained and she was granted bail.”

Similarly, the Head, Media and Publicity, EFCC, Wilson Uwujaren, in a statement said 20 of the suspects were arrested by operatives from the Ilorin Zonal Command, 13 suspects were arrested by the Kaduna Zonal Command and the Port Harcourt Zone arrested 12 suspects for various offences bordering on inducing voters with money. It added that the Uyo Zonal Command arrested four in Calabar. The remaining suspects were arrested in Gombe, Sokoto, Kebbi and Niger states.

He, however, noted that investigations were still ongoing, saying those arrested in Kaduna State consist of 10 males and three females. He said investigations had so far revealed that the major modus operandi of the suspects was to give cash, transfer money, coupons and send recharge cards to eligible voters to induce them.

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The statement partly read, “In Kaduna, the team arrested one Buhari Muhammed with voter coupons, which he confessed would be used to trace and pay those who voted for his party. Furthermore, the team monitoring the voting exercise around LEA Kabala Doki, Kaduna also arrested two individuals suspected of vote-buying. Upon their arrest, a total of N67,500, a list containing names of voters with their PVC numbers and their bank account details amongst others, were recovered from them.”

He explained that the Uyo Zonal Command arrested one Esther Edem, the Woman Leader of a political party for Ward 11, and two others, Edet Etim and Asanwana Eyo, for alleged vote-buying in Calabar. He said they caught her with account numbers and thousands of naira in cash in an uncompleted building.

Uwujaren said the 20 suspects arrested from different parts of Kwara State by the Ilorin Zonal Command were caught with incriminating items like cash, notebook containing names of voters, PoS machines, mobile phones and voter cards, among others.

“Upon interrogation, some of the suspects identified themselves as party agents while some admitted distributing money to induce voters,” he added.

Meanwhile, he said the Gombe Zonal Command arrested 10 persons and recovered 43 pieces of wrappers and N1,923,900 in cash.

The Acting Commander, Ilorin Zonal Office, Mr Michael Nzekwe, while parading the suspects, said, “We recovered huge sums of cash and Point of Sale machines. We are still investigating the matter. After the investigation, we will strictly follow the provisions of the law.”

Meanwhile, a civil society organisation, Yiaga Africa, said it received reports of 15 confirmed cases of vote-buying in eight states with food, cash, alcoholic drinks, wrapper, and a pack of spaghetti. It added that there was intimidation and harassment of voters by political parties and destruction and hijacking of election materials.

A board member of Yiaga Africa Watching The Vote, Ezenwa Nwagwu, who stated these during the organisation’s mid-day press conference in Abuja, said, “A similar report was received from PU 006 Rangan Ward, Warji LGA of Bauchi on the distribution of wrappers, N2,000 and a pack of spaghetti to voters.”

Similarly, the governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party in Gombe State, Muhammad Barde, alleged that there was vote-buying during the election.

He added, “We are aware of their plans to intimate voters to ensure they cause mayhem across the state; they have no other action they can take apart from massive vote buying and causing mayhem across the polling units.”

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