INEC investigates Rivers rerun malpractices, vows to sanction culpable staff

The Independent National Electoral Commission on Wednesday announced its readiness to investigate and punish staff found guilty of misconduct during the crisis-ridden federal and state legislative elections held in Rivers State on December 10.

INEC made the disclosure in its bulletin released on Wednesday.

The Commission said it had it had constituted “a high-powered, four-man Committee to investigate the role of INEC staff in the conduct of the Rivers National and State Assembly re-run elections which took place on Saturday, 10thDecember 2016.”

The elections were characterized by irregularities and marred by violence which claimed lives including police officers.

INEC conducted the elections in a total 21 constituencies; but barely 12 days after the exercise the electoral body is yet to announce final results of all the constituencies. It has blamed widespread violence.

Reports by the media and observer groups accused INEC officials, the military and the police of overt bias during the elections.

According to the bulletin released by an INEC spokesperson, Nick Dazang, the members of the investigative committee are Okechukwu Ibeanu, a national commissioner, as Chairman; Ahmed Mu’azu, also a national commissioner, member; Jacob Jatau, Resident Electoral Commissioner, FCT, member; and Omoloja Tajudeen, Deputy Director, Discipline.

The committee’s terms of reference are to review the preparations and deployment of personnel and material on the eve of the elections; identify the factors leading to the apparent failure of processes in some local government areas; and determine the involvement and possible culpability of INEC officials in the conduct and outcome of the elections.

The committee is also to recommend appropriate sanctions against officials involved in any infractions and commendation for exceptional performance; and advise the commission on any matter considered relevant to the assignment.

The committee is to submit its report on June 30, next year, said the Commission.

Apart from INEC, the police also said it had set up probe panel to investigate its officers suspected to have engaged in misconduct during Rivers elections.

Meanwhile, in another development, INEC has approved the promotion of 1,307 of its staff across the country.

“A breakdown of those promoted shows that 14 were officers promoted from Grade Level (GL) 16 to the rank of Grade Level (GL) 17 (substantive Directors) while 1,293 were officers from Grade Levels (GL) 7 to 16. All the staff promoted passed their promotion examinations and successfully met the rigorous criteria set by the Commission,” said the commission on Wednesday.

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