The case against some erring INEC official has progressed in court with one of the defendants admitting that he collected money for Diezani but not for his personal benefits.
An ex-Administrative Secretary with the Independent National Electoral Commission, Mr. Christian Nwosu, admitted on Thursday that he received and signed for the sum of N264.8m at a branch of Fidelity Bank in the build-up to the 2015 general elections.
He added that though he received N30m out of the N264.8m, he did not benefit personally from the money but spent it on logistics.
Nwosu stated this before the Federal High Court in Lagos where he is being tried by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission for allegedly conspiring with two other INEC officials to take a total bribe of N264.88m from a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, to compromise the elections.
The anti-graft agency claimed the N264.8m was part of the sum of $115.01m, which Diezani allegedly stashed away in the bank for conversion and onward disbursement to several individuals across the 36 states of the federation.
But Nwosu said though he went to the bank to collect the N224.8m out of which he got N30m, he did not benefit from the money.
He said the money was for logistics, adding that he acted under the instructions of one Mr. Togba, who directed him over the telephone to visit the bank to collect the money.
Nwosu said this while being cross-examined by the EFCC prosecutor, Rotimi Oyedepo, during a trial-within-trial ordered by Justice Mohammed Idris.
The trial-within-trial is to test the voluntariness of confessional statements which Nwosu made to the EFCC.
Asked by the prosecutor whether he indeed collected and signed for money, Nwosu answered in the affirmative. He however added, “I did not personally benefit from the N30m. The ad hoc staff benefitted because the election went smoothly with the assistance of the logistical support. My commission was aware of the money and the evidence was that the election went smoothly.”
Asked whether he received the money in cash or cheque, the defendant said, “The money was not given to me by way of cheque. We were asked to go to the bank to collect the money. No cheque was given to me at the bank. I just signed a document at the bank, which confirmed the receipt of the money.
“I confirmed receiving N264,880,000 on March 27, 2015. I did not instruct the bank to transfer the money to any account because it was not for me but for the coordinator, Mr. Isa Adedoyin, who was to ensure that the money got to the ad hoc staff.”
He said the N30m he got for the settlement of the ad hoc staff logistics was paid in two tranches into his bank accounts.
He said he first received the payment of N17m paid into his Diamond Bank account on April 7, 2015 while N13m was also paid into his Union Bank account on April 13, 2015.
Nwosu had earlier pleaded guilty to the bribery and money laundering charges and opted for a plea bargain, after which the EFCC told the court that it had already recovered N5m cash and a landed property worth N25m from him.
But Nwosu later abandoned the plea bargain after Justice Idris rejected the N500,000 fine proposed for him as punishment by the EFCC.
Justice Idris had held that by virtue of Section 16(2)(b) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, under which Nwosu was charged, he was supposed to pay a fine of N10m or go to jail for two years.
Further proceedings in the case have been adjourned till November 15.