FG arraigned 23 INEC officials to court for allegedly receiving N350m from Wike in Rivers Rerun

The Federal Government has dragged 23 officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, before an Abuja Federal High Court for allegedly receiving the sum of N350m from Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike during the December 10 rereun election in the state.

The Federal Government on Tuesday filed seven counts charges comprising money laundering and economic crimes-related offence against the 23 INEC officials.

In the suit with FHC/ABJ/CR//42/2017, the Federal Government claimed that the N350m was proceeds of Wike’s criminal conduct and constituted economic and financial crimes.

The prosecution alleged that the accused persons between December 7 and 10, 2016 converted, concealed and were in possession of the sum of “N350m bribe in violations of various provisions of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 and the Economic and Financial Crimes (Establishment, etc) Act, 2004.”

Those named in the charge include, Shittu Mohammed Lamido (Shettima), Henry Owokure, Peter Ewatade, Mrs. Mary Jummai Tunkoyo Pennap, Gwatana Jibril, Ivase Stephen Abdullahi Ogabo, Gayus Hassan, Hussaina Yahaya, James Ogwuche, Karimu Aminu and Adedokun Najeem Ayotunde.

Others include, Balogun Funmilayo, Adams Kadiri, Akinwande Adesoji, Lukeman Olabimpe, Tiamiyu Arowolo, Akinwoye Amodu, Nwoha Yusuf, Patrick Anuke, Iro Abali, Nwosu Oluchi and Arukwe Chinelo.

According to count 1, the defendants “all electoral officers and staff of the Independent National Electoral Commission between December 7 to 10, 2016 at Port Harcourt, Rivers State, did conspire to convert the sum of N350,000,000 directly from bribery and corruption in connection with the Rivers State re-run election which took place on December 10, 2016 to personal use.”

The offence of conspiracy contravened Section 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 and punishable under Section 15 of the same Act.

Federal Government in count 2 alleged that the accused persons, “did convert the sum of N350,000,000 being money derived directly from bribery and corruption in connection with the Rivers State rerun election, which took place on December 10, 2016, with the aim of concealing the illicit origin of the money.”

The offence of “conversion of money derived directly from bribery and corruption” was said to have contravened Section 15(1)(a)(ii) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 and punishable under the same section of the Act.

In Count 3, the INEC officials “did collaborate to conceal the sum of N350,000,000 being money derived directly from bribery and corruption in connection with the Rivers State rerun election which took place on December 10, 2016.”

In Count 4, the prosecution claimed the accused persons “all electoral officers and staff of the Independent National Electoral Commission between December 7 and 10, 2016, at Port Harcourt, Rivers State, did commit an offence to wit: possession of the sum of N350,000,000, being money you received from Governor Ezenwo Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, knowing that the said money represented proceeds of bribery and corruption in connection with the Rivers State rerun election which took place on December 10, 2016.”

Government said the offence contravened Section 17(b) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 and punishable under the same section of the Act.

In Count 5, it was alleged that the defendants “all electoral officers and staff of the Independent National Electoral Commission between December 7 and 10, 2016, at Port Harcourt, Rivers State, did commit an offence to wit: used the sum of N350,000,000 being money you received from Governor Ezenwo Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, knowing that the said money represented proceeds of bribery and corruption in connection with the Rivers State rerun election which took place on December 10, 2016.”

Count 6 alleged that the defendants “all electoral officers and staff of the Independent National Electoral Commission between December 7 and 10, 2016, at Port Harcourt, Rivers State, did commit an offence to wit: possession of the sum of N350,000,000 being money you received from Governor Ezenwo Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, knowing that the said money represented proceeds of economic and financial crime to wit: bribery and corruption in connection with the Rivers State rerun election which took place on December 10, 2016.”

The above offence runs fowl of Section 17(b) of the Economic and Financial Crimes (Establishment, etc) Act, 2004, and punishable under the same Act.

Count 7 alleged that the accused persons, “did commit an offence to wit: used the sum of N350,000,000, being money you received from Governor Ezenwo Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, knowing that the said money represented proceeds of economic and financial crime to wit: bribery and corruption in connection with the Rivers State rerun election which took place on December 10, 2016.”

However, the court is yet to fix a date for the arraignment of the accused persons.

NAN

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