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AGF Malami sues two INEC officials over electoral fraud

The Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN) has sued two officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) before a Federal High Court, Abuja over their alleged involvement in electoral malpractices in the 2019 Presidential and National Assembly elections held in Ikpoba-Okha Local Government Area of Edo State.

A press statement from the Comrade Salihu Othman Isah, Special Adviser to the AGF on Media and Publicity, on Monday in Abuja, the Federal Government slammed a five-count charge against the defendants pursuant to Sections 104 and 379 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015.

Isah revealed the names of the culprits as Sulaiman Ikhuoriah, male, 36 years old of No.13 Aisosa Street, Off Okhoro Road, Benin City who served as Collation Officer for Ward 6 in Saint Maria Gorreti Secondary School, and Olugbenga Omotiloye, male, 50 years old of Plot 1, Longe Street, Okoh Central, Benin City, Edo State were accused to have falsified results in favour of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate against the All Progressives Congress (APC) and its candidate.

According to the charges filed by Magaji Labaran, a Principal State Counsel in the Department of Public Prosecution of the Federal Ministry of Justice, on behalf of the AGF, they committed the alleged offence in their capacity as electoral officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) during February 23, 2019 general election in Ikpoba-Okha Local Government Area of the state.

They were alleged to have conspired among themselves and with others now at large and upon receipt of an offer to procure the return of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate in the House of Representatives elections for Egor/Ikpoba-Okha Federal Constituency in Edo State thereby committing an offence punishable under Section 123 (1) of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended).

Ikhuoriah was also alleged to without lawful excuse acted in breach of his official duty by placing a call to Honourable Ehiozuwa Johnson Agbonayinma and requested him through a telephone conversation for gratification for the purpose of delivering his ward to his party, the PDP during the elections.

This he did erroneously thinking he was discussing with the PDP chairman, not knowing he was talking to Hon. Agbonyinma of APC.

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“By doing this, he has committed an offence punishable under Section 124 (b) of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended).

“The Collation Officer is also accused to have received the sum of N100, 000 as a bribe for delivering the ward for his supposed paymaster, the PDP candidate; which is an offence punishable under Section 124 (b) of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended).”

On his part, and as count four, the Electoral Officer, Olugbenga Omotiloye while serving in his capacity as INEC electoral officer on the 2nd March, 2019 at Bishop Kelly, beside St. Paul’s Catholic Church, Airport Road, Benin City held a meeting with Honourable Ise-Edehen and collected the sum of N100, 000 as gratification.

The sum collected is said to be in appreciation of his effort in ensuring that PDP won the election during the February 23rd National Assembly polls for Ikpoba-Okha Local Government Area.

Isah equally detailed that count five, Omotiloye on the 25th February 2019 was directed by Senator Matthew Urhoghide not to take the Senatorial election’s result to Eghosa Grammer School which he compiled in clear breach of his lawful duty thereby committing an offence punishable under Section 123 (3) of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended).

A case summary deposed to by Magaji Labaran, stated thus; “My Lord, the summary of this case is electoral malpractices, perpetrated by the defendants who were the INEC Collation Officer and INEC Electoral Officer (E.O) respectively during the 23rd February 2019 Presidential and National Assembly elections in Ikpoba-Okha LGA, Edo State.

“The defendants have acted in breach of their official duties by been involved in electoral malpractices including bribery and conspiracy.

“The defendants were invited for interview on the 27th February 2019 and 5th day of March 2019 following a petition by the member representing Egor/Ikpoba-Okha Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, E.J. Agbonayinma.

“The suspects made voluntary statements under caution and admitted collecting the sum of N100, 000.00 as appreciation.”

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