The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) yesterday chided the factional governorship candidate of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Ondo State, Jimoh Ibrahim, for allegedly lying against one of its (INEC) officials by accusing the official of demanding $1million bribe to list his name as candidate for the election.
The commission also asserted that it only receives nomination papers from the national chairmen of political parties or their designated officials, and not aspirants.
INEC added that its investigation into the matter revealed that at no time during the 15-minute encounter between Ibrahim and the official, an acting director, Legal Services, Mrs Toyin Babalola, in company of three other lawyers, was the candidate asked to pay a bribe of $1million.
A statement by the commission’s national commissioner, Communications, Prince Adedeji Soyebi, also disclosed that the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Ondo State, Mr Segun Agbaje, had turned down a meeting with Ibrahim in London, set up by the candidate’s intermediaries.
The commission was reacting to allegations by Mr Jimoh Ibrahim that Mrs Babalola had asked him for $1million bribe before the order made by Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court, Abuja Division could be complied with by the Commission.
Jimoh had also accused the REC for Ondo State of sending intermediaries to fix a meeting with him in London.
In its reaction, INEC noted that court orders/judgments were served by court bailiffs and not individual parties.
“For the record, that from its preliminary investigation, nothing can be farther from the truth. On the first allegation, our investigation revealed that Mr Ibrahim turned up at the INEC headquarters, Abuja, unannounced, made his way to Mrs Babalola’s office, brandished a copy of the court document and insisted that INEC should accept him as the official candidate of the PDP for the Ondo governorship poll.
“On sighting the unexpected guest, Mrs Babalola called three other lawyers in her department to witness her encounter with Mr Ibrahim and politely told him that the Commission was already in possession of the court document.
“At no time during the encounter that lasted less than 15 minutes did Mrs Babalola ask for $1million.Therefore, the allegation by Mr Ibrahim is false,” the statement by INEC read.
The statement added: “In the second instance, the Commission discovered that it was Mr Ibrahim, who, through an intermediary, tried to arrange a meeting with the Ondo State REC in London.
“This, Mr. Agbaje promptly declined and insisted that if Mr Ibrahim wanted to see him (Agbaje), he was free to do so at the Ondo State INEC office during office hours. Therefore, Mr lbrahim’s allegation cannot be the correct account of what actually took place.”
INEC re-assured Nigerians that it would never succumb to any form of blackmail or intimidation, “but will remain focused on its determination to deliver free, transparent and credible elections, based on the rule of law.”