DSS arraigns INEC officials, other, for stealing, selling PVCs

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Two employees of the Independent National Electoral Commission were, on Thursday, arraigned before a Chief Magistrates’ Court by the Department of State Services for allegedly stealing over 3,097 Permanent Voter Cards belonging to eligible votes in Rivers State.

The suspects identified as Beesor Sorle, 39, and Monday Ifesimama, 52, were arraigned in Port Harcourt alongside one Darlington Ogolo, 42.

The three suspects were charged with conspiracy, stealing and selling of PVCs, bribery and attempt to register intending voters by proxy.

The charges read in part, “That you, Beesor Sorle and Monday Rowland Ifesimama, between May and August 2018 at the INEC office, Opobo/Nkoro Local Government Area, within the jurisdiction of this court, did conspire to commit felony to wit; stealing of 3,097 Permanent Voter Cards belonging to various registrants but in custody of INEC, thereby committing an offence contrary to Section 516 of the Criminal Code, Law of Rivers State, 1999.

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“That you, Darlington Ogolo, between May and August 2018, at the INEC office, Opobo/Nkoro Local Government Area, within the jurisdiction of this court, did give the sum of N300,000 as bribe to Beesor Sorle, Higher Executive Officer of INEC in exchange for over 1,000 PVCs registered under Ward 7 of Opobo/Nkoro Local Government Area, thereby committing an offence contrary to Section 98 (4) (1) of the Criminal Code, Law of Rivers State.

“That you, Monday Rowland Ifesimama, Chief Clerical Officer of INEC, between May and August 2018, at the INEC office, Opobo/Nkoro Local Government Area, within the jurisdiction of this court, did received the sum of N120,000 as bribe from Darlington in order to fraudulently facilitate the registration of some prospective voters under Ward 7 of Opobo/Nkoro by proxy, thereby committing an offence contrary to Section 98 (1) of the Criminal Code Law of Rivers State, 1999.

“That you, Monday Rowland Ifesinamama, a member of staff of INEC, between May and August 2018, at the INEC office, Opobo/Nkoro Local Government Area, within the jurisdiction of this court, did receive the sum of N120,000 as bribe from Darlington Ogolo to fraudulently facilitate the registration of some prospective voters under Ward 7 of Opobo/Nkoro by proxy, thereby committing an offence contrary to Section (1) (e) of the Electoral Act, 2010.”

However, when the charges were read to them, the suspects pleaded not guilty.

The Chief Magistrate, S. D. Andrew-Jaja, granted them bail in the sum of N100,000 each with sureties, who must be civil servants of not less than Level 12 in the Civil Service.

The sureties, according to the chief magistrate, should make available photocopies of their appointment letters.

Andrew-Jaja later adjourned the matter till February 20, 2019.

Also arraigned by the DSS was one Philemon Lawrence (25), who allegedly paraded himself as an INEC official and defrauding unsuspecting members of the public after promising to give them jobs as ad hoc workers of the commission.

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Lawrence was said to be collecting N3,800 each from the prospective ad hoc workers after advertising his bank account online.

The three counts preferred against the suspect read in part, “That you, Philemon Lawrence, with others still at large, between December and January 2019 in Port Harcourt, within the jurisdiction of this court, did fraudulently received N3,800 from Gladday Toby on the pretext that you would offer her employment as an ad hoc staff of INEC, thereby committing an offence contrary to Section 419 (A) of the Criminal Code Law of Rivers State, 1999.”

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