I Got N30m From Diezani, INEC Official Tells Court

Court Strikes Out Charge Indicting Diezani
File photo: Diezani Alison-Madueke

 

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.

The offence was said to have been committed in March 2015.

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.

Court Jails Man For Raping Minor In Ekiti

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.

Bribery Allegation: Case Against 23 INEC Officials Transferred To Port Harcourt

Court Jails Two Men For Selling IDP Food In BornoA Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has transferred the case filed by the Nigerian Police Force against 23 officials of the Independent Electoral Commission to the Port Harcourt division of the court.

The INEC officials are being tried by the police for allegedly taking bribes during the national and state assembly rerun elections in Rivers State.

In transferring the case, Justice John Tsoho said the argument of the police that the insecurity in Rivers State will affect the trial was not tenable.

He added that there was no evidence placed before the court to how pervasive insecurity in Rivers State.

Justice Tsoho also said that the video clips and photographs tendered by the police were incidences that happened before the December 10th rerun elections.

The judge also said in his ruling that the responsibility of providing security in any part of the country rests on the security operatives and not the court.

He said, “I haven’t found out that Rivers State has become ungovernable based on the alleged security situation in the state.

“So, based on Section 22 of the Federal High Court Act, the case has been transferred to the Port Harcourt division of the Federal High Court.

“Also, in line with Section 93 Subsection 1 and 2 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act and Section 45 of the Federal High Court Act, which states that the trial of a case should take place where the offence was committed, I hereby transfer the case.”

Lawyers for the INEC officials had argued that their trial at the Federal High Court in Abuja was in breach of the Constitution and the Criminal Justice Act.

The police, however, argued that there was insecurity in Rivers State, which could interfere with the trial.

 

Bribery Allegation: Court Rejects INEC Official’s Plea Bargain

Court Sentences Falae's Kidnappers To Life ImprisonmentA Federal High Court sitting in Lagos on Thursday faulted a plea bargain agreement between the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and an Independent National Electoral Commission Official, Christian Nwosu.

Justice Mohammed Idris said the plea bargain arrangement for Nwosu, who was convicted on charges of money laundering, runs contrary to section 16 (2) (b) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Amendment Act of 2012.

The judge held that by 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 N10m or both.

The EFCC had charged a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Allison-Madueke, and three officials of INEC for allegedly taking bribes to compromise the 2015 general elections.

The INEC officials, Christian Nwosu, Yisa Adedoyin and Tijani Bashir, were said to have on March 27, 2015 taken bribes from a former minister of petroleum resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke who is said to “still be at large”.

The defendant, Mr Christian Nwosu upon arraignment pleaded guilty to a charge of directly receiving and using the sum of N30m from a larger amount of N264.88m, which were said to be proceeds of crime.

Two of his colleagues, Yisa Adedoyin and Tijani Bashir however pleaded not guilty to the charges.

While the court convicted Nwosu, Adedoyin and Bashir were granted bail pending the commencement of their trial.

After Nwosu’s conviction, the EFCC informed the court of the plea agreement it had with him.

In his judgement today, Justice Idris held that the penalty set out in paragraph four of the plea bargain ran contrary to the provisions of section 16 (2) (b) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Amendment Act of 2012.

Besides a forfeiture of two landed properties in Delta State, as well as a forfeiture of the sum of N5m recovered from the convict, paragraph 4 of the plea bargain also provides: “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 said since it contradicted the appropriate sentence prescribed by the Act, he found the plea bargain inadequate.

In the light of this new development, counsel to the first defendant (Nwosu) asked for a short adjournment to enable him discuss with his client on whether to proceed or change his plea.

The judge then adjourned the case to May 3 for continuation.

Rivers Security Situation Is Totally Exaggerated – Tam-George

Rivers Security Situation Is Exaggerated – Tam-GeorgeRivers State Commissioner for Information, Dr. Austin Tam-George, believes that the security situation in the state is not as bad as being reported and believed.

While admitting that the state has been in the news for the wrong reasons in recent times, he argued that incidents of violence are not peculiar to the state as other states across the country have had notable cases of violence.

Dr. Tam-George was the guest of Channels TV’s Sunrise Daily on Tuesday. He said: “There is this mythology that Rivers state is not safe, that is not correct.

“If you look at the pattern of violence that has characterized the political dispensation we are in, you will see that the situation is worse in many places.

“In the whole of the Northeast for instance, as you know, we have over 70,000 people that have been killed over the past seven years with more than six million people displaced.

“In Kaduna we have what looks like a low level of insurgency already underway. The whole of Southern Kaduna is under siege by so-called Fulani herdsmen.

“In Lagos we have seen inter-communal clashes between Hausas and Ibos in Mile-12 area where about 12 people were killed and over 40 cars burnt in just one incident.

“We have had pockets of audacious criminal activities in Ogun state and elsewhere. Se we’ve seen a pattern of insecurity and violence characterizing the kind of political system that we run.

“In Rivers state, we have had episodes of violence; sometimes criminality in some sections of the state and we have taken unprecedented steps (to curb it).”

The Commissioner reeled out a number of steps taken by Governor Wike, particularly the provision of financial and logistical support for the Police, adding that the state has a “very efficient security architecture” and the cases of violence are “not out of control”.

“Are we denying that that there are episodes of security challenges? No, but the situation is totally exaggerated,” he affirmed.

Leaked Audio

Dr. Tam-George also commented on the controversial audio recording released by Sahara Reporters alleged to be that of Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike.

In the recording, a voice purportedly of Governor Wike is heard in a telephone conversation arranging payment to some persons who are supposedly officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in exchange for their help in rigging the recently concluded legislative elections in the state.

The Commissioner reaffirmed the position of the state government not to be part of the panel set up by the Inspector General of Police to investigate this allegation and the crisis that trailed the rerun legislative election in the state.

“We will not be part of this, it’s just childish…We have no confidence in that panel and we will not participate in it.

“The Governor was not elected to get involved in this kind of nonsense. Our own focus is to deliver service to our people. So we will not be distracted by this kind of antics by the APC and their media supporters.”

Healthy Environment

Port Harcourt residents have expressed worry over the emergence of black soot across the city in recent days and the interview also was an opportunity for the Commissioner to address the matter and allay residents’ fears.

He explained that there are a range of factors that experts have suspected as causes of the black soot.

“The hypothesis is that they probably have A-level refining activities around the state. There is also the likelihood of the black soot originating from gas flares by major oil companies and the burning of tyres in some areas as well.

“What they have decided to do is that, rather than pin it down to one cause, why don’t we do test that we determine the actual origin of the black soot.

“The findings are still being awaited,” he said.

Mr Tam-George reiterated an appeal he made in his earlier statement that residents should stop the burning of tyres and major oil companies should “look at ways of using alternative strategies rather than flaring gas”.

He emphasized that the rest of the world is focusing on healthy and sustainable livelihood and the Rivers state government is working with several relevant agencies to ensure that it aligns with the vision to make the state an healthy environment.

Rivers Govt. Denies Audio Recording On Governor Wike

Rivers Govt. Denies Audio Recording On WikeThe Rivers State government has denied an audio recording released by Sahara Reporters alleged to be that of Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, calling it a technological contraption.

According the audio recording, a voice purportedly of Governor Wike is heard in a telephone conversation arranging payment to some persons who are supposedly officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in exchange for their help in rigging the recently concluded legislative elections in the state.

In a statement by the Commissioner of Information, Austin Tam-George, the government said that the Governor had no contact with any INEC official.

The statement reads: “We categorically deny these latest allegations as a sick fabrication, an outright lie.

“Governor Wike never made any contact with INEC officials, in person or by telephone.

“Saharareporters.com is the online propaganda bullhorn of the All Progressives Congress (APC).  Their publications are typically false, and the writers are professional hawkers of fiction.

“No one would have thought that the APC and its cowardly media allies would resort to an audio impersonation of Governor Nyesom Wike, using a voice changer technology.

“The voice changer technology is often used by teenagers mainly in South Korea and Japan to launch innocent technological pranks at each other, mainly for laughs.

“The use of such a technology to blackmail a governor is a new criminal low for the APC, a party already widely discredited for its addiction to falsehood.

“The APC and Saharareporters are inmates in the prison of their own lies. We reject the latest blackmail by the APC.”

New PDP Excos Emerge In Adamawa State

Adamawa State, PDPThe internal crises that engulfed the Adamawa State chapter of the PDP in Adamawa state have been laid to rest following the conclusion of the congress that produced a new set of party executives.

The state congress was held at the Silver Motel Yola and had INEC officials in attendance.

Abdulrahman Bobboi emerged as the new Chairman of the party in the state while Lazarus Gugu emerged as Deputy Chairman and 27 others were affirmed through voice votes by delegates.

Sani Kutigi took charge of the proceedings at the election alongside other members of the Congress Committee with Air Commodore Dan Suleiman (Rtd) as Chairman of the Congress Committee.

The new executives took their oath of office amidst cheers from party members.

Speaking shortly after the congress, the new Chairman of the Party, Alhaji Abdulrahman Bobboi, promised to establish a caucus committee of the party to resolve conflicts.

Rivers Govt. Blames Military For Reported Diversion of Voting Materials

Voting MaterialsThe Rivers State government has expressed shock by what it calls the role played by the military in the reported diversion of all voting materials meant for Isaka community, in Okrika Local Government Area of the state.

In a statement by the state’s Commissioner for Information, Dr. Austin Tam-George, the government said that no election materials were received at all in Elibrada and Oduoha communities as voters waited in vain for INEC officials.

“This is a sickening betrayal of democracy by the military and will never be allowed to stand,” the statement read.

The statement added that there were also reports of fake result sheets in circulation at Rumuogba, Okporo, and Woji.

“In Emohua, no election materials have been received at all in Elibrada and Oduoha communities as at 3:30pm, as voters wait in vain for invisible INEC officials,” he said.

He assured the people of Rivers State that “no gerrymandering of the electoral process will be allowed to stand in the final analysis.”

2015 Elections, One Of The Most Rigged In Nigeria – Observer

ElectionA Legal Practitioner and observer during the 2015 elections, Ikechukwu Ikeji, says the just concluded election was one of the most rigged elections he had ever witnessed in Nigeria, despite being considered free and fair.

Speaking on a breakfast show, Sunrise Daily on Channels Television on Monday, Mr Ikeji accused INEC officials of being compromised, stressing further that the politicians themselves were out to rig and those who won simply outwitted those who lost.

“Just about every politicians I came across was in the game of rigging. Nothing can be farther from the truth than that these elections were fair and free.

“In fact I have to be honest, this is one of the most rigged elections I have witnessed. I was in the field and I can tell you that electoral offences were rampant,” Mr Ikeji said.

On card readers, the election observer expressed dissatisfaction. He said that the card readers did not work in many areas he went to.

He said that they (the electorate) had agreed not to use the card readers, revealing that he clearly saw people coming back to vote twice while some voted three times in both national and state elections.

He added also that some polling units were dominated by some political parties, as they were able to buy the minds of voters and the electoral officials.

Mr Ikeji also said that all materials for the election should have been present at the commencement of the voting, including the result sheets, which various political party agents should verify.

He also indicted some election observers saying many of them were compromised and carried out their duties with bias.

He reacted to the statement by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) that it had commenced the compilation of all electoral offences recorded in the 2015 general elections with a view to prosecuting those found wanting.

The legal practitioner said that it was a good statement by INEC that they would prosecute electoral offenders, but noted that the solution does not just lie in advocacy, pronouncement or trying to put technology in place to obviate the need for politicians to rig.

He advised that the attraction in elective and political public positions be reduced to discourage politicians wanting to get to position by all means.

Lagos Elections: Lai Mohammed Accuses Jonathan Of Plot To Rig

Lagos ElectionsOn the eve of elections, the All Progressives Congress, APC, has made very strong allegations of rigging against the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.

The Spokesperson of the APC, Lai Mohammed, alleged that the reason why the President was in Lagos on Thursday was to put finishing touches to the rigging plot.

“The plan is to use thugs and militants who have also been imported into the state to intimidate voters, snatch ballot boxes and provide cover for the PDP to announce false results.

“Fake ballot papers as well as result sheets are already being issued to the PDP.

“As we said in our press statement earlier today, the President flew into Lagos on Thursday expressly to oversee the PDP’s rigging plans. He met with his point men; Musiliu Obanikoro, Jimi Agbaje and Gani Adams, apparently to hand over the war chest to them,” Mohammed said.

Lai Mohammed Is Wrong – Abati

However, the Presidency has swiftly condemned the claims by Mr Lai Mohammed.

The Presidency described as false
hood and rude, the statement by the APC Spokesman, Mr Lai Mohammed that the President, Dr Goodluck Jonathan was in Lagos on Thursday to rig the governorship and state assembly elections.

Presidential spokesman, Reuben Abati said that there was nothing unusual with the visit on Thursday than the usual homage to the leader of the PDP.

He said the President did not meet with INEC officials, the Police or polling officials or anyone involved in organising the elections.Abati

“So to say the President went to Lagos to supervise rigging of the election is most uncharitable and cruel,” he said.

He added that President Jonathan is “a man of honour who has left a worthy legacy that should not be dented by Lai Mohammed” and that at this point in time “the President should be left alone”.

The Presidency advised that the All Progressives Congress (APC) should look for another target and not the President.

 

David Mark Expresses Worry Over Card Reader Performance

markThe Senate President, David Mark has expressed worry over the performance of the card readers which failed to capture bio-data of voter card holders after several attempts.

Senator Mark’s concern followed several attempts to be accredited at his polling station in Otukpo, Benue State, a situation said to have affected many of the eligible voters who turned up for the accreditation exercise.

Senator Mark, however, called for patience by the Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC) officials and the electorate in other to ensure a hitch-free general election, while commending the peaceful conduct of Nigerians who came out in large numbers to cast their votes.

Oyo PDP Crisis Deepens As 2 Major Aspirants Defect To Other Parties

PDPThe crisis rocking the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Oyo State has deepened with two of its major aspirants defecting to other parties to realise their ambitions.

At a press conference, one of those aspirants, Mr Seyi Makinde, explained that the leadership of the PDP in the state did not provide any election material for the congress neither were INEC officials on ground to conduct the election.

Makinde added that the gubernatorial primaries was conducted in bad faith and in flagrant disregard of the court order and PDP constitution.

He further stressed that in the face of such abuse of law and order, he needed to take drastic measures which prompted him and his followers to move on to SDP as the gubernatorial flag bearer.

Fake INEC Officials Caught Registering Voters In Hotel

Polling UnitsThe on-going voters registration exercise in Rivers state has not been without controversy.

Following a tip off by a concerned citizen, the Police arrested seven persons claiming to be INEC officials, while they were allegedly registering persons illegally in a hotel room.

This happened in Elele town of Ikwere local government area of the state.

While confirming the arrest, the Rivers State Commissioner of Police, Dan Bature disclosed that investigations were on going.

Speaking with journalists, a member of the community and a politician, Chidi Wihioka, wondered how the arrested persons came to be in possession of electoral materials, without the knowledge of the electoral body, INEC.

However, Resident Electoral Commissioner in the state, Aniedi Ikiowak, has denied any involvement of INEC in the saga, noting that those persons were not their officials and that the materials found with them could not be from INEC.