By Soni Daniel, Northern Region Editor
Eleven officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission in Gombe State were yesterday quizzed in connection with the receipt and sharing of N120 million to compromise last year’s general elections in the state.
The eleven officials, who are the electoral officers drawn from the eleven Local Government Areas of the state, were grilled for hours at the Zonal Office of EFCC in Gombe and were likely to spend the weekend in the custody of the commission.
An EFCC top official said on Friday that the affected officials had made useful statement to the commission with some admitting committing the offence.
The bribe was allegedly negotiated and collected on behalf of the INEC staff by the electoral officers for Akko and and Gombe local government councils, Ahmed Biu, and Mohammed Zannah from one Yunusa Ali Biri, a retired INEC official in the state, who acted as Gombe State coordinator for electoral officers during the poll.
According to the anti-graft agency’s finding, Biri was ingeniously designated and addressed as the “Coordinator of NGOs” in a bid to cover his identity for the dubious assignment.
During their meeting with Biri before the commencement of the elections in the state last year, the parties agreed to share the bribe per polling unit in each local government while a part should be shared to ad-hoc staff engaged by INEC and deployed to each of the polling stations across the state.
But it was not ascertained as at last night how much Biri, the middleman, eventually gave to each of the beneficiaries out of the N120 million he was given to disburse. EFCC said its agents were determined to establish the amount and recover it given the admission by some of the recipients that they were short-changed by the “Director of NGOs”, who might have pocketed N32 million and disbursed only N88 million to them.
The EFCC official said: “They have made useful statements, and most have also confessed to receiving millions of Naira for their local governments from two of them who negotiated and collected the bribe on their behalf.
“The Electoral officers for Akko LGA and Gombe LG, Ahmed Ali Biu, and Mohammed.B.Zannah, admitted to have collected the bribe from one Yunusa Ali Biri, also a retired Electoral officer who acted as Gombe State coordinator of bribes for electoral officers in the State.
The names of other electoral officers who reportedly collected the bribe, according to EFCC records were given as: Godwin Maiyaki Gambo, Balanga LGA, Bukar Alone Benisheik, Dukku LGA, Jibril. B. Muhammed,Billiri LGA, Dunguma Musa Dogona, Funakaye LGA, Mohammed. A. Wanka, Kaltungo LGA, Ishaku Yusuf, Kwami LGA, Suleiman Isawa, Nafada LGA, Babagana Malami, Shongom LGA, and Nuhu Samuel, Y/Deba LGA.