Money laundering: INEC official convicted, sentenced

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Lagos—A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, yesterday, convicted and sentenced an official of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Yisa Adedoyin, following a plea bargain arrangement he reached with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, in the charge brought against him, former Petroleum Resources Minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke and two other officials of the commission, Christian Nwosu and Tijani Bashir. They were alleged to have conspired among themselves to directly take possession of N500.76 million, which formed part of proceeds of unlawful act. Trial judge is Justice Mohammed Idris. The plea bargain agreement is dated May 2, 2017. The court arrived at the decision after the EFCC re-arraigned in absentia, Alison-Madueke, alongside Christian Nwosu and Tijani Bashir, both staff of INEC. In sentencing the convict, Justice Idris held that “There is no doubt that the second defendant is an elderly man. It is also not in contention that the second defendant is a first time offender. “This court will tamper justice with mercy. The court hereby adopts the plea bargain agreement as the judgment of the court.” The plea bargain agreement stated that,”Upon the conviction of the second defendant, the court should forfeit to the Federal Government all that parcel of land and its appurtenances measuring 100ft by 100, lying, being and situate at Taoheed Road, Bufo-Osho Village, Ilorin-South LGA, Ilorin, Kwara State which property was acquired and developed with N23 million from the proceeds of the 2nd defendant’s unlawful acts.” “That a fine N10 million is proposed to this court to be imposed on the 2nd defendant upon his conviction on count 4 of the amended charge. “That in paying the fine of the sum of N10 million, the 2nd defendant shall raise a draft of the sum of N5 million in addition to the sum of N5 million already recovered from him vide the attached draft.” “That the court shall direct the EFCC in whose name the draft of N5 million was raised by the 2nd defendant to transfer the value of the said draft to the Consolidated Revenue Fund Account of the Federation. “The 2nd defendant shall within seven days after the payment of the fine imposed by this court enter into a bond with the EFCC never to be involved in economic and financial crimes within and outside the shores of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.” The EFCC had re-arraigned the defendants over their alleged involvement in money laundering. But they all pleaded not guilty to the six count amended charge made against them by the anti-graft agency. Prior to the re-arraignment of the defendants, counsel to the EFCC, had informed Justice Idris that the 2nd defendant, Olarenwaju had indicated his intention to change his plea from not guilty to guilty plea and also reached a plea bargain arrangement with the commission. EFCC further informed the judge that the anti-graft agency had filed the 2nd amended charge, with a prayer that same should be accepted and read to the defendants for them to take their pleas. It will be recalled that at the last hearing on the matter, Justice Idris had thrown out an earlier plea bargain arrangement reached at by the then convicted 1st defendant, Christian Nwosu over allegation of money laundering with the anti-graft agency which he had earlier pleaded guilty to. The judge had clearly maintained that the plea bargain arrangement cannot save the convict from serving a stiffer sentence.

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