I Got N30m From Diezani, INEC Official Tells Court

A staff of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Mr. Christian Nwosu, has told a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos that he collected the sum of N30 million from the former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke and spent it on logistics aimed at influencing the outcome of the 2015 general elections.

Mr Nwosu who was then the Kwara State Administrator of INEC gave this evidence while testifying in a “trial-within-trial”.

A trial-within-trial is conducted to test the voluntariness of confessional statements made by suspects during investigations.

The INEC staff is standing trial for allegedly conspiring with two other INEC officials to take a bribe of N264.8m from a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, to compromise the elections.

At today’s proceedings, Mr Nwosu also disclosed that though he signed for the N264.8m, he only got N30m which he did not personally benefit from as it was shared out to the ad-hoc staff of the Independent National Electoral Commission for logistics.

The EFCC had alleged that the N264.8m was part of a total sum of $115m which Mrs Allison-Madueke Diezani doled out to several individuals across the 36 states of the federation for the purpose of influencing the outcome of the elections in favour of the incumbent President at the time.

The INEC official also testified that it was one, Mr. Togba, the Director-in-Charge of field services who instructed him through a telephone call to go and collect the money.

The court has fixed Nov. 15 for continuation of the trial.

Mr. Christian was arraigned alongside two of his colleagues on April 4 for the offence. In a plea bargain agreement he had with the EFCC, he pleaded guilty to collecting the money.

He, however, backed out of the plea bargain following the rejection of the terms of the agreement by the trial judge, Justice Muhammed Idris.

Justice Idris had held that the penalty set out in paragraph 4 of the plea bargain agreement ran contrary to the provisions of sections 16 (2) (b) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act.

Besides a forfeiture of two landed properties traced to him in Delta State, as well as a forfeiture of the sum of N5 million recovered from him, paragraph 4 of the plea bargain had provided: “That a fine in the sum of N500,000 is proposed to the court, to be imposed on the first defendant upon his conviction.

The agreement also provides that within seven days after payment of the fine, the convict shall enter into a bond with the EFCC, never to be involved in economic and financial crimes within and outside Nigeria.

But the judge held that from the provisions of the Act, the appropriate sentence should be an imprisonment term of not less than two years or a fine in the sum of not less than 10 million or both.

Justice Idris held that it was for this reason that he finds the plea bargain agreement as inadequate.

A second defendant, one Yisa Olanrewaju Adedoyin, had already been convicted by the court on the basis of a similar plea bargain arrangement with the EFCC.

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