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BREAKING: FULL LIST: 20 Nigerian Governors On Watchlist For Allegedly Planning To Spend Billions Of Naira On Vote-buying

20 Nigerian Governors On Watchlist For Allegedly Planning To Spend Billions Of Naira On Vote-buying

A human rights organisation, the International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law (Intersociety) has called on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission and other anti-graft agencies to beam their searchlights on governors who have gone into lavish squandering of state resources to ensure their preferred candidates win by hook or by crook.

Intersociety made the call in a special report released on Thursday, which was signed by its principal officers – Emeka Umeagbalasi, Board Chair; Chinwe Umeche and Chidinma Udegbunam.

According to the report, following the way the Labour Party won in some areas, about 20 state governors have been forced into squandering over N50 billion in public funds on vote-buying to ensure they install their puppets as the next governors and state lawmakers.

Intersociety, which is based in Anambra State, alleged the projected government spending of N2.5 billion to lobby and buy votes to ensure that candidates of the All Progressive Grand Alliance for the State House of Assembly were elected in Saturday’s election.

It alleged that governors of some other states have spent public funds lavishly to coerce people to vote or rig their candidates into offices. According to Intersociety, they are the governors of Lagos, Rivers, Delta, Abia, Imo, Ebonyi, Enugu, Cross River, Bayelsa, Edo, Akwa Ibom, Nasarawa, Plateau, Taraba, Kaduna, Ogun, Ekiti, Oyo and Kogi.

It also noted that its investigation showed that no remorseful and corrigible lessons from the February 25 polls had been learnt by Nigeria’s political actors, particularly the Chairman of Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission and all the Commission’s serving National Commissioners, Resident Electoral Commissioners and most of the 37 ad hoc State Collation Officers.

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“Many, if not most of above named elective and appointive public office holders have been identified to have vicariously or directly or conspiratorially played ignoble roles in the brutal rigging of the February 25, 2023 Presidential and National Assembly Elections.

“They also squandered billions of naira belonging to their states for purposes of coordinating voter suppression and conspiratorially involved in collation center result fixing; all in their desperate efforts to suppress the ‘tsunamic Obidient ballot revolution’ in their States and beyond,” it said.

The group noted that its findings revealed that the governors have been gripped with panic, fear and desperation as “the possibility of them losing governorship incumbencies and majority in the State Assemblies; with imaginary impeachment threats steer them in the face”.

It continued, “Intersociety has therefore investigated and found that there is likelihood of N50b State funds to be wastefully spent by the 20 Governors for purposes of cash or material vote-buying, voter suppression and coercive and intimidating measures in this Saturday, Mach 18, 2023 Governorship and State Assembly Polls.

“The polls are also projected to be violence threatening with high possibility of votes of the electorates not going to be count. That is to say that not only that voter suppression and collation center result fixing that characterized the Feb 25 Presidential and National Assembly will be repeated in the March 18 Governorship and State Assembly Polls in the affected 20 States but the Polls are also most likely to witness violence and widespread cash or material vote-buying.

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“Violence is likely to be witnessed in Enugu (dichotomy violence), Rivers (State-sponsored violence), Delta, Ebonyi (Ebubeagu and thuggery violence), Abia, Benue (inter-party and federally sponsored religious violence), Lagos (state actor sponsored group violence), Kaduna (State-sponsored inter ethno-religious violence) and Anambra (State-sponsored political thuggery violence), among others.”

The report added, “from our findings, not less than N50b belonging to taxpayers of the above named 20 States are most likely to be wasted or squandered, out of which each of the 20 States is projected to engage in at least N2b wasteful spending.

“Anambra State is projected with N2b-N2.5b lavish spending while the three higher spending States are Lagos (projected with N10b spending), Rivers (projected with N6b-N10b spending) and Delta (projected with N5b-N6b spending). Each of the remaining 16 States is most likely to wastefully spend at least N2b.

“The beneficiaries of the wasteful States’ spending sprees include traditional rulers and chairs of town unions, religious leaders and market and transportation leaders (where necessary). These recipients will be captured under “mobilization of voters’ logistics”.

“Other key beneficiaries are State Assembly candidates of the Govs’ political parties (cash or material vote-buying and logistics supports), “elected” or appointed Local Government Transition Committee Chairmen or Chairpersons (for ‘INEC LGA admin heads and SPOs, POs and APOs’ and cash or material vote-buying supports’).

“Also in the involved are collectively and individually compromised security agents, especially police and military personnel as well as conformist INEC’s substantive and ad hoc top officials such as conformist National Commissioners, RECs and Collation Officers in Charge.”

Giving a specific example of Anambra State, Intersociety said, “As at Thursday, 9th and Friday, 10th March 2023, over N1.2b was reported to have been lavishly spent and disbursed from the State coffers and according to reliable information obtained, the whopping State funds were disbursed to “each of the 30 State ruling Party’s House of Assembly Candidates who received N20m, totaling N600m (for logistics supports such as cash sums for cash vote-buying or procurement of food or personal items like cartons of Indomie, wrappers (abada clothes), small bags of rice, packs of tin tomatoes, tins of red and groundnut oils, etc. for material vote-buying).

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“Each of the 21 Local Government Caretaker Committee Chairmen also reportedly received N30m, totaling N630m (for ‘mobilization supports’ including for sorting electoral officers such as SPOs, POs and APOs and INEC LGA admin officers). The LGAs Caretakers were also reportedly directed to use part of the N30m for electronic money transfer vote-buying using the likes of ‘O’Pay mobile banking, etc, for speedy and comfort deliveries.

“Others reported to have been listed to benefit from the second batch of the State funds (yet to be released and disbursed as at Wednesday, 15th March 2023) are conformist security operatives (police, army and navy personnel), traditional rulers/PGs and some influential market leaders and INEC top officials.”

“The second batch, expected in multiple hundreds of millions of naira, is likely to hit the ground before end of Friday, 17th March 2023. In all, Anambra State Government is expected to wastefully spend from the State coffers N2.5b between 9th and 19th March 2023 for purposes of pre-Election Day, Election Day and post-Election Day Project of securing many, if not most of the 30 State Assembly seats by all means legitimately and illegitimately possible or achievable,” the report claimed.

Intersociety, therefore, called on ICPC, EFCC and other anti-corruption agencies to beam their searchlights on the states.

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