By Toby Prince
The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, has preferred criminal charges against two officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), accused of manipulating election results in Edo State.
In a statement issued on Monday evening by the spokesman to the AGF, Salihu Isah, it was revealed that a five-count charge was filed in relation to the complicity in electoral malpractices in the 2019 Presidential and National Assembly elections held in Ikpoba-Okha Local Government Area of Edo state.
The INEC officials identified as Sulaiman Ikhuoriah, male, 36 years and Olugbenga Omotiloye, male, 50 years. They were alleged to have falsified results in favour of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) against the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Ikhuoriah, whose address was given as: No.13 Aisosa Street, Off Okhoro Road, Benin City, was said to have served as a Collation Officer for Ward 6 in Saint Maria Gorreti Secondary School, Benin during the last general elections.
Omotiloye’s address was given as: Plot 1, Longe Street, Okoh Central, Benin City, Edo State.
Isah, who was silent in the charge number and the day it was filed, said the AGF brought the charge pursuant to Sections 104 and 379 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015.
According to the statement, the charge against the defendants was entered on Monday by a Principal State Counsel in the Department of Public Prosecution of the Federal Ministry of Justice, Magaji Labaran, pursuant to Sections 104 and 379 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015.
“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. 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 a hundred thousand naira as 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 day of 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 one hundred thousand naira 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 said.
Isah added that Omotiloye, on the 25th February, 2019 was directed not to take the Senatorial election result to Eghosa Grammar School which he complied in clear breach of his lawful duty thereby committing an offence punishable under Section 123 (3) of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended).
Some of the counts in the charge read: “That you Sulaiman Ikhuoriah, male, 36 years old, of No. 13 Aisosa Street, off Okhoro Road, Benin City, Edo State, on 26th February, 2019 at Mr. Biggs, opposite the NNPC Mega Filling Station, Sapele Road Benin City, received the sum of N100,000.00 (One Hundred Thousand Naira) only as bribe for delivering your Ward, thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 124 (b) of Electoral Act 2010 (as Amended).