The Federal High Court in Lagos yesterday convicted an employee of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for accepting over N70 million bribe from former Petroleum Minister Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke to rig the 2015 general election results.
Justice Mohammed Idris convicted Yisa Adedoyin for receiving N70,050,000 after he pleaded guilty to an amended charge.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) re-arraigned him with Christian Nwosu and Tijani Inda Bashir.
They allegedly collected N264.88 million bribe on March 27, 2015 from the former minister ahead of the election.
Nwosu earlier pleaded guilty to the charge and was convicted for the offence of receiving N30 million bribe.
But, Justice Idris rejected his plea bargain agreement with the EFCC involving payment of N500,000 fine and forfeiture of property acquired with the money.
The judge said Nwosu should either accept a heavier sentence, which includes a N10 million fine, or change his plea.
When the defendants were re-arraigned yesterday, Nwosu changed his plea to not guilty.
Adedoyin, who earlier pleaded not guilty, changed his plea to guilty.
Mrs. Alison-Madueke, said to be at large, was named in the charge.
Prosecution counsel Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo urged the court to convict Adedoyin in view of his plea and to accept the plea bargain agreement reached with him, dated May 2.
It was agreed in the plea bargain that Adedoyin will forfeit a parcel of land measuring 100ft by 100 at Taoheed Road, Budo-Osho Village, Illorin South Local Government Area in Kwara State.
“That a fine of N10 million is proposed to this honourable court to be imposed on him upon his conviction on count four of the amended charge.
“That in paying the fine of N10million, the defendant shall raise a draft of N5million in addition to the sum of N5million already recovered from him,” the agreement reads in part.
Reviewing the facts of the case, Oyedepo said EFCC received an intelligence in late 2004 that Mrs. Alison-Madueke received gratification from various oil companies such as Northern Bet Oil and Gas, Auctus Integrated Company and an oil magnate Adesanya Laitan.
“The total sum received was $115,010,000. It was kept in the custody of a bank, which received instructions to convert the sums to naira and distribute to the 36 states and the FCT.
“Our investigation established that the second defendant (Adedoyin) in conjunction with the first defendant (Nwosu) signed a receipt for N264,880,” Oyedepo said.
He tendered the receipt and Bashir’s statement in evidence.
“We discovered that though he signed for a total of N264,880, we found as a fact that he received N70,050,000 from the third defendant.
“Out of the N70 million, he only benefited N28million, which has been forfeited. The property he acquired with it has been recovered. We have the deed of assignment and plan,” Oyedepo said.
The lawyer tendered the receipt of payment as well as bank draft of N5million in favour of EFCC Recovered Funds Main account.
He urged the court to convict the defendant in line with the terms of the plea bargain agreement.
Ruling, Justice Idris held: “Judgment be and is hereby entered against the second defendant in terms of the agreement. This is the judgment of the court.”
Oyedepo urged the court to return the case to the chief judge for reassignment to another judge for the trial of other defendants.
He said the ACJL provides that where a judge refuses a plea bargain and a defendant changes his plea to not guilty, the trial would be before a different judge.
But Nwosu’s lawyer, Obinna Okeke, said the trial could go on before Justice Idris since Nwosu had been re-arraigned.
He alleged that his client was induced to plead guilty and that EFCC imposed a lawyer on him, but Oyedepo denied the allegations.
“We found out that he was put under intense pressure. He has been in detention for over one month. A counsel was also imposed on him,” he said.
Justice Idris asked parties to address him on whether or not the case should be reassigned to another judge.
He adjourned till May 15 for hearing of Nwosu’s bail application and for counsel to address him.