No fewer than 65 persons were arrested by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on Saturday, March 18, 2023, across the 28 states where governorship and State Houses of Assembly elections were conducted for alleged voter inducement.
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Twenty of the suspects were arrested by operatives from the Ilorin Zonal Command while 13 suspects were nabbed by operatives on election monitoring duty at the Kaduna Zonal Command.
The teams monitoring the polls in the Port Harcourt Zone arrested a total of 12 people for various offences bordering on inducing voters with money to vote for their preferred candidates, while the Uyo Zonal Command made four arrests in Calabar. The remaining suspects were arrested in Gombe, Sokoto, Kebbi and Niger states.
The Head, Media and Publicity, EFCC, Wilson Uwujaren, revealed these on Saturday in a statement obtained by our correspondent.
He noted that those arrested in Kaduna consist of 10 males and three females, adding that they were apprehended by operatives working on intelligence.
Uwujaren said, “A suspect allegedly involved in vote buying was nabbed at School Road, Unguwan Rimi Kaduna. The suspect who initially resisted arrest, is however in custody, pending the conclusion of the investigation.
“Also in Kaduna, the tẹam led by Esmond Garba arrested one Buhari Muhammed in PU 002 Dogara Yaro Dagari area. He was arrested 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 led by CSE Wakilu Omokide also arrested two individuals suspected of vote buying. Upon their arrest, a total sum of N67, 500, a list containing names of voters with their PVC numbers and their bank account details amongst others, were recovered from them.”
The spokesperson for the anti-graft agency noted that investigation so far revealed that the major modus operandi of the suspects is to give cash, transfer money, coupons, and send recharge cards to eligible voters in order to induce them to vote for their candidates.
“A search of their persons and phones revealed that most of them had transferred money into the accounts of some voters on the lists recovered from them. Some of the items recovered from the suspects include voter cards, monies, list containing names and account details of voters. Others are recharge cards,” he said.
In the same vein, officers of the Kaduna Command also arrested two persons in Niger State for alleged vote buying. The first suspect, one Umar Ibrahim, was arrested at Peter Sarki Road polling unit based on intelligence.
“Upon searching his vehicle, an INEC ID tag (domestic election observer) bearing his name and photograph and also a letter of appointment from BOS ( Bago Support Organisation) as Director Liaison, were uncovered. On further inquiry, he disclosed that a certain Mr. Usman Mohammed, who belongs to his political party gave him the INEC ID tag
“The second suspect, Isa Salihu Bababida, was arrested at Unguwar Nassarawa with several lists of names, account numbers and BVN,” Uwujaren added.
He further revealed that in Port Harcourt, Rivers state, the election monitoring teams arrested 10 suspects alleged to be involved in voter inducement at Moscow Road, Elekahia, Township, Mile 2, Ward 2 polling Unit 2 and 30, Ogbum, Phalga, Port Harcourt.
According to him, the suspects were arrested with A4 papers that had names, telephone and account numbers of persons suspected to be voters. Also two youths who were alleged to be involved in voter inducement were arrested at Ward 2 Polling Unit 2 and 30, Ogbum, PHALGA, Port Harcourt City.
The EFCC PRO further noted that the four persons arrested at different locations in Calabar by the team from Uyo Zonal Command, led by Binta Rano, volunteered their statements at the Criminal Investigation Department, Cross River State Police Command.
He added, “The team arrested one Esther Edem, the Woman Leader of one of the political parties for Ward 11, Calabar South, Cross River State and two others, Edet Etim and Asanwana Eyo, for alleged vote buying in Calabar.
“The Woman Leader, who had a list of suspected voters, their account numbers and thousands of Naira in cash was apprehended inside an uncompleted building, beside her ward in Calabar South, while Etim and Eyo were arrested at Ward 12, Unit 11, at Kings Memorial School by Inyang Street, Abasi Obori, Calabar South.
“The duo of Etim and Eyo had with them their own lists and money they allegedly used in buying vote.”
Uwujaren also noted that the 20 suspects arrested by the Ilorin Zonal Command are Adekunle Ademola, Wasiu Raimi, Laaro Rasheed, Alagbe Taiwo, Boniface Victory, Kayode Toba, Adeoye Adetunji, Lawal Favour, Abidoye Moradeyo, Magaji Iliasu, Abdulkadir Abdulmumini and Musa Olasunkanmi.
Others are Marudeen Sadiq, Abogunrin Oluwasesan, Funmilayo Lawal, Olawuyi Bolarin, Garuba Ismail, Abiola Abogunrin, Amidu Tiamiyu and Usman Abdulazeez.
“The suspects who were arrested at different polling units across the state, were caught with incriminating items including cash of various sums, notebook containing list of voters names, POS machine, 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 said.
Meanwhile, EFCC PRO further added that in Gombe, the Gombe Zonal Command led by Faruk Dogondaji, made 10 arrests over alleged voters’ inducement, and recovered 43 pieces of wrappers and N1, 923,900 in cash.
He, however, noted that investigations are still ongoing to determine the culpability of each suspect.