Court Remands 3 INEC Staff Over N23bn Diezani Loot — Leadership Newspaper
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Court Remands 3 INEC Staff Over N23bn Diezani Loot

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Justice Muslim Hassan of the Federal High Court in Lagos yesterday remanded three senior officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in prison over alleged N179.8 million fraud.

The judge ordered that the INEC officials, attached to its Ogun State office, Yemi Akinwonmi, Dickson Atiba and Ogunmodede Oladayo, be kept in custody after they were arraigned before him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on an 8-count charge of money laundering and fraud.

The anti-graft agency alleged that the N179.8 million was part of the N23 billion allegedly shared by a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke, to influence the outcome of the 2015 general elections.

The three INEC officials were alleged to have signed and received the money on behalf of Ogun State from one Adeyinka Ayo-Aina when they “reasonably ought to have known that the money formed part of proceeds of fraud.”

The commission also claimed that they handled the cash without going through any financial institution, contrary to the provisions of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011.

The EFCC through its counsel, Nnaemeka Omenwa alleged that the first and second defendants, on or about April 7, 2015, made and accepted a cash payment of N69million, “which sum exceeded the amount authorised by law without going through a financial institution and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011, as amended, and punishable under Section 16(2) of the same Act.”

The accused persons, however, pleaded not guilty to the charge.

After their arraignment, Omenwa, requested for a trial date to enable the commission present its witnesses. He also asked that the accused persons be remanded in prison pending their trial.

But the defence lawyer, Ayo Odugbesan, orally pleaded with the court to admit his clients to bail because of their status in INEC.

Odugbesan submitted, “I humbly wish to apply that the court grant bail to the accused persons because they are on national service. They were principal officers in charge of 2019 elections”.

Justice Hassan, however refused to grant Odugbesan’s request, directing him to file a formal bail application.

The judge consequently adjourned the matter to August 6 for the hearing of the defendants’ bail application and ordered their remand in prison till then.

Some of the counts against them reads: “That you Yemi Akinwonmi, Dickson Atiba and Ogunmodede Oladayo sometimes in March, 2015 in Nigeria within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court conspired amongst yourselves to directly take possession of the sum of N179,800,000.00 (One Hundred and Seventy Nine Million, Eight Hundred Thousand Naira) which sum you reasonably ought to have known formed part of the proceeds of fraud and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 18 (a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 as Amended and punishable under 15 (3)and (4) of the same Act.

“That Yemi Akinwonmi and Dickson Atiba , Ogunmodede Oladayo sometimes in March, 2015 in Nigeria within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court without going through financial institution received cash payment of the sum of N179,800,000.00 (One Hundred and Seventy Nine Million, Eight Hundred Thousand Naira) from Adeyinka Ayo-Aina  which sum exceeded the amount authorised by law  and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 16 (d) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 as amended and punishable under 16 (2) (b) of the same Act.

“That Yemi Akinwonmi and Dickson Atiba on or about the 7th day of April 2015 in Nigeria within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court did conspire amongst yourselves to commit an offence, to wit: making and accepting cash payment of the sum of N69, 000,000.00 (Sixty Nine Million Naira only) which sum exceeded the amount authorised by law without going through financial institution and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 as Amended and punishable under Section 16 (2) (b) of the same Act.

“That  you Yemi Akinwonmi on or about the 7th day of April 2015 in Nigeria within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court without going through financial institution made cash payment of the sum of N59, 000,000.00 (Fifty Nine Million Naira only) which sum exceeded the amount authorised by law without going through financial institution and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 1(a), 16 (1) (d) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 as Amended and punishable under Section 16 (2) (b) of the same Act.

“That Dickson Atiba on or about the 7th day of April 2015 in Nigeria within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court without going through financial institution accepted cash payment of N59, 000,000.00 (Fifty Nine Million Naira only) which sum exceeded the amount authorised by law and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 16 (d) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act 2012 and punishable under 16 (2) (b) of the same Act.”





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