Bribery Allegation: INEC Official Withdraws Plea Bargain

Court Sentences Falae's Kidnappers To Life ImprisonmentAn official of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Mr. Christian Nwosu, who was convicted last week of taking bribe to influence the 2015 elections, has withdrawn his plea bargain.

Nwosu withdrew the plea bargain agreement he had with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on Wednesday, six days after Justice Mohammed Idris of the Federal High Court in Lagos rejected the plea bargain.

Based on the plea bargain, Nwosu had pleaded guilty and was convicted for accepting N30m from a N264.8m bribe allegedly offered by a former Minister of Petroleum Resource, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke.

When he was brought before Justice Idris on April 27, the EFCC informed the judge of the plea bargain.

Under the agreement, Nwosu was to forfeit two landed properties in Delta State and the sum of N5m recovered from him.

Besides that, paragraph four of the bargain 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.”

Justice Idris, however, rejected it, saying 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.

The judge said according to 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.

He therefore refused to adopt the plea and informed Nwosu that he was free to withdraw the plea.

He subsequently adjourned the case based on the request of the INEC official’s lawyer for him to be given time to weigh his options.
At the resumed hearing on Wednesday, Nwosu, however showed up with a new lawyer, who informed the court that his client was coerced into entering the plea bargain.

Based on Nwosu’s decision to withdraw his plea bargain, the prosecuting counsel for the EFCC, Rotimi Oyedepo, requested that the case file be sent to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court for reassignment.

He explained that based on the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, a judge who rejects a plea bargain can no longer preside over the case.

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.

FG Will Not Considered Plea Bargain For Anyone – Malami

Attorney General in Nigeria, Abubakar Malami on plea bargainThe Nigerian government will not consider plea bargain as an option for anyone facing prosecution for terrorism and financial crimes, a government official has said.

The Minister of Justice and the Attorney General of the Federation, Mr Abubakar Malami, met with members of the Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) group in Abuja on Tuesday where he made the strong statement about the government’s willingness to prosecute offenders.

Mr Malami said that the government would not allow criminal cases to be compromised.

“The office of the Attorney General of the Federation will not advocate plea bargain for anyone,” he reiterated.

Jailed For Cowardice

The Minister of Justice also revealed that the government would audit high profile cases that had been compromised in the past.

During the meeting with the group, the Minister also discussed cases of soldiers jailed for cowardice against the Boko Haram Insurgency, with the BBOG pleading that the soldiers should be reinstated.

Led by BBOG’s Co-convener, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, they presented several issues before the Attorney General, including an immediate recall of the military men who were jailed for cowardice at the war front without arms.

The Nigerian Army had months ago arraigned 71 soldiers on several count charges including criminal conspiracy, conspiracy to commit mutiny, insubordinate behaviour and false accusation.

They were tried and discharged on some charges but found guilty and convicted on other charges including mutiny.

Five of the soldiers were discharged and acquitted while one was sentenced to 28 days in prison with hard labour.

Conference Endorses Special Anti-Corruption Courts, Plea Bargaining

delegates_nationalDelegates at the National Conference have endorsed the establishment of special anti-corruption courts, as well as the concept of plea bargain in the country’s justice system.

These decisions were taken after the consideration of the report of the conference committee on law, judiciary and legal reforms.

According to the resolution, preliminary objections, interlocutory injunctions and stay of executions must not be entertained in such courts.

The confab also approved the recommendation that the Chief Justice of the Federation should be elevated  to the position of number three citizen in order of protocol in the country.

Over 300 delegates attended plenary after the a stern warning was issued by the Federal Government over some delegates at the conference who have formed the habit of absenting themselves from the proceedings of the conference without prior permission from the confab leadership, saying it would not pay the sitting allowances of such delegates who fail to attend plenary on sitting days save for medical reasons.

The conference also rejected the recommendation to have the Prisons Service moved from the exclusive legislative list to the concurrent list. The conference could only entertain the views of only 80 delegates before moving on to consider the amendments.

The delegates also voted against a proposal seeking to inject a clause, granting ethnic groups, states and regional blocks the right to self determination in the Nigerian Constitution.

The adoption has therefore doused apprehension that some groups at the conference were out to insert the self-determination clause in the constitution in order to pave the way for the disintegration of Nigeria.

There had been insinuations that the South South geo-political zone of the country was preparing the grounds for a possible secession from Nigeria if its demand for total resource control in the confab was approved.

 

Expert Criticises Use Of Plea Bargain For Corruption Cases In Nigeria

A professor of Criminology, Femi Odekunle has said that the use of plea bargain in the Nigeria judicial system has been inappropriately applied and that it has been used for offenses committed by those with powerful social and economic status.

While speaking on Channels Television’s Breakfast Show Sunrise Daily, Mr Odekunle said in users of plea bargain in Nigeria often emphasised  ‘technicalities over and above substantive justice’.

He said the recent suspension of Justice Talba is the “first step in a million steps that we need to clean up our judiciary.”

Mr Odekunle condemned those who have been seeing such offenses and have not done anything; he praised Justice Aloma Mukhtar for getting rid of the abuse of plea bargain.

He listed the benefits of plea bargin to include: getting rid of minor cases if properly applied; reducing the work load of prosecuting and defense lawyers; enforcing of law and order.


• It can be used to free the system for attention of important cases such as murder, rape amongst others.