The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) yesterday arraigned three officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for allegedly taking bribes from former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke to compromise the 2015 general elections.
The accused persons, Christian Nwosu, Yisa Adedoyin and Tijani Bashir were arraigned on seven counts before Justice Mohammed Idris at the Federal High Court, Lagos. Charged along with them was Diezani, who was said to be at large.
The charges border on conspiracy, acceptance of gratification and money laundering.The EFCC, in the first charge, alleged that Nwosu, Adedoyin and Bashir, in connivance with Diezani, took possession of N264.88 million, which the anti-graft agency said they ought to have reasonably known formed part of proceeds of an unlawful act, to wit: gratification.
The defendants were said to have on March 27, 2015 made cash payment of N234.88 million without going through any financial institution.Adedoyin was said to have received N70.05 million cash from Bashir on March 27, 2015.
Bashir was said to have on the same day taken possession of N64.88 million while Nwosu was said to have received and used N30 million.The prosecution said the accused persons acted contrary to Section 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act 2012 and were liable to be punished under sections 15(3) and 16(2)(b) of the same Act.
When the charges were read to defendants, the 1st defendant, Nwosu, admitted receiving a cash of N30 million as alleged by the EFCC.The prosecuting counsel for the EFCC, Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo, informed the judge that Nwosu had elected to enter into plea bargain with the anti-graft agency.
Oyedepo added that already Nwosu had made a refund of N5 million while he had also surrendered the title document of a landed property he purchased for N25 million in Delta State.Oyedepo urged the judge to convict Nwosu as charged in view of his plea and the evidence adduced.
Consequently, Justice Idris held, “In line with the plea of the defendant coupled with the facts and the exhibits tendered by the prosecutor, the defendant is hereby convicted as charge.”However, the convict’s counsel, Mrs. Adaku Mbama, pleaded with the judge to temper justice with mercy in deciding the fate of her client.
The judge thereafter adjourned to April 7, 2017 to sentence Nwosu.Meanwhile, Adedoyin and Bashir pleaded not guilty to the charges.They were subsequently admitted to a bail of N50 million each with two sureties in like sum.
The judge said the sureties must own landed property in Lagos and were to show evidence of three years tax clearance.The defendants were directed to deposit their passport in the custody of the court’s registrar.Justice Idris ordered that they should be remanded in the prison custody pending when they would meet the bail conditions.