Jimoh Ibrahim has levelled a $1M bribery allegation against INEC. This should be thoroughly investigated.
A staff of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) solicited for a one million dollar bribe from Ibrahim, according to the business mogul.
The bribe was a pre-condition for his name to be put forward as the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate for the Ondo Governorship election, Ibrahim says.
The Abuja Division of the Federal High Court, had ordered INEC to recognise Ibrahim as the flag-bearer of the PDP for the November 26 governorship election in Ondo State.
The ruling was delivered by Justice Okon Abang.
It does look like that order is on its way to being flouted by the electoral umpire and Ibrahim feels that’s only because he didn’t grant the bribe as demanded.
According to Ibrahim, INEC did a complete volte face "immediately it was served the judgement.
"After the service, the music changed. INEC should not allow one Governor to destroy its reputation. We are not saying that INEC will not obey the court judgement. One of the officials demanded one million dollar bribe from me to process the court judgement," Ibrahim said.
Ibrahim gave the name of the official who asked for bribe as Mrs. O.O Babalola, who is INEC’s Acting Legal Adviser.
Said Ibrahim: “We had a judgment directing INEC to collect our document for the governorship election in Ondo State, but it was not obeyed. We feel that this is an act of lawlessness that is capable of creating anarchy.
“We went to court where INEC was also part of the proceedings and they undertook to obey the judgment. Now we had a judgment that was specific, directing that it should accept me as the candidate. The judgment was served on the electoral body which claimed to be studying it.”
Ibrahim says he’s reported the matter to President Muhammadu Buhari.
He also added that he has mentioned the name of the INEC staff who solicited for bribe to Mahmood Yakubu who is the INEC Chairman.
For context, two factions of the PDP presented two separate candidates for the Ondo Governorship election. The Ali Modu Sheriff led faction presented Jimoh Ibrahim while the Ahmed Makarfi led faction went for Eyitayo Jegede as its flagbearer.
That makes it two standard bearers for a Governorship contest from the same political party, making a legal interpretation an imperative.
However, Rotimi Oyekunmi, who is the Chief Press Secretary to the INEC Chairman, has rebutted the bribery allegation.
"It is not true that Mrs. Babalola demanded one million dollars from Jimoh Ibrahim. Two other officials of INEC witnessed the encounter between Mrs. Babalola and Ibrahim. Ibrahim brought a copy of his judgement and wanted to impress it on INEC to collect it but we told him we already have it. It is ungodly of a businessman of his stature to make this kind of allegation," said Oyekunmi.
Well, the allegation has been made.
It is possible that by this allegation, Ibrahim is only seeking to mount pressure on INEC to name him as the PDP standard bearer for the Ondo Governorship election. It’s also possible that Mrs. Babalola went outside of her brief to demand some money from Ibrahim.
But one million dollars? This is a staggering amount, no less.
What does it say about the PDP that it is presenting two candidates for a major election, from two bitter factions?
INEC shouldn’t be quick to dismiss this story. An internal investigation should be conducted and sanctions meted out where necessary.
It’s also possible that Mrs. Babalola wasn’t acting alone, if Ibrahim’s allegations are anything to go by. A few other greedy INEC staffers may have been co-opted as part of an illicit ring.
In any case, we recommend that Mrs. Babalola steps aside from her position while investigations are underway.
If eventually it is also established that Mr. Jimoh Ibrahim was lying or merely flying a kite in a bid to keep his Governorship ambition alive, by Jove he should be charged before a court of competent jurisdiction and tried in accordance with relevant laws of the land.
But in no way should his allegation be swept under a carpet. This is just too weighty to be dismissed.