Justice Muslim Hassan of the Federal High Court in Lagos yesterday ordered a total of N387 million found in the bank accounts of four former officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission be temporarily forfeited to the federal government.
The court ordered the money be kept in the pocession of the government after counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Nnaemeka Omenwa argued an expert application brought in pursuant to Section 17 of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act, No. 14, 2004.
The names of the officials were given as: Victor Chukwuani, Okesiji Adeniran, Gabriel Oke and Torgba Nyitse.
After granting the ex parte application,the judge gave 14 days for anyone interested in the money to appear before him to show cause why the N387 million should not be permanently forfeited to the federal government.
The anti-graft agency, informed the court that the former INEC officials benefitted from the N23bn, which a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke, allegedly doled out to influence the 2015 presidential election in favour of then incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan.
An investigator with the commission, Usman Zakari, said in an affidavit attached to the application that the ex-INEC officials received the money through a non-governmental organisation, West Africa Network of Observers, which they formed to purportedly monitor the 2015 general elections.
According to him, the NGO, WANEO, had a former INEC Chairman, Prof Maurice Iwu, as its national coordinator.
The investigator claimed that though “WANEO was formed under the guise of monitoring the conduct of 2015 election, distribution of Permanent Voter Cards, sensitisation of voters, delimitation of electoral constituencies, etc, its primary objective was to ensure the victory of the PDP candidate in the presidential election.”
Zakari said through WANEO, the ex-INEC officials facilitated the disbursement of N510 million Diezani fund to Osun, Ogun and Oyo states.
“After the conduct of the 2015 presidential election and in order to conceal the sources of the money collected by Ogun, Osun and Oyo states, the remainder of the money was fraudulently laundered,” the investigator added.
Zakari said the EFCC had however, recovered N387m out of the N510m from the four ex-INEC officials.
The judge had adjourned further proceedings in the case till August 6.