JUSTICE Mohammed Idris of a Federal Court in Lagos on Friday sentenced a former Independent National Electoral Commission ( INEC ) Administrative Secretary in Kwara State, Christian Nwosu and a former INEC official Mr Tijani Bashir, to seven years imprisonment.
Both men were sentenced for allegedly accepting N264m bribe offered by former petroleum minister Diezani Alison-Madueke, to compromise the 2015 elections.
TribuneOnline recalls that both men were convicted on Thursday after the Judge found them guilty.
Nwosu was convicted after he was found guilty of benefiting from a sum of $115.01 million Alison-Madueke gave.
Nwosu served in Kwara State during this period.
“I find that the prosecution has proved the case beyond reasonable doubt in the manner required by law. I, therefore, find the first and second defendants guilty as charged,” the Judge said.
Nwosu had earlier admitted collecting the money in a plea bargain arrangement he had with the anti-graft agency. However, he had to back out following the rejection of the terms of agreement by the judge.
When the case was called on Thursday, Mr Obinna Okereke announced appearance for Nwosu, and informed the court that the convict was immediately informed to come down from Enugu after the court issued the order on Wednesday.
He, however, said that after Nwosu arrived Lagos, he was informed that he fainted at the park and had been rushed to a hospital at Ajangbadi in Lagos, where his Blood Pressure was said to have read 200/140.
He, also, urged the court to grant a short adjournment to enable his appearance in court adding that there was also a susbsisting appeal in the instant case before the court of Appeal.
Again, Oyedepo objected to the prayer for adjournment and citing the provisions of sections 305 and 314 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, he urged the court to proceed.
The prosecutor, Rotimi Oyedepo described the request as a gimmick to stop the judgement.
He added: “A defendant who was able to travel from Enugu to Lagos, suddenly fainted when he arrived his destination; he did not faint on the way, I urge the court to refuse this excuse and proceed with judgement.”
In a bench ruling, Justice Idris dismissed the request for adjournment on the grounds that by the provisions of the law, his judgment ought to be delivered within 90 days after adoption of addresses.
Delivering his judgment afterwards, which lasted for 47 minutes, Idris gave a clear insight as to what constituted Money laundering, Conspiracy, as well as circumstantial evidence.
The court held that it is satisfied from the testimonies of prosecution’s witnessses, and the evidences tendered such as receipts of payments duly signed by the convicts, that the prosecution had been able to discharge the burden of proof on it, which in any case needs not be total.
Again, the court held that it was not in doubt that the convicts were guilty of the offences of conspiracy, as they both met in the bank to accept the cash payments of N70.05 million and N30 million out of the total sum of N264.8 million dole out of the ex petroleum Minister.
The court held : “I agree with the prosecution that the manner in which the transaction leading to this charge was consummated, shows clearly, a meeting of the minds.
“As stated earlier, the defendants showing their meeting of minds to commit the alleged offences, went to the bank, handed the cash to the second defendant, who conveyed same as instructed by the first defendant.
“They were not beneficiaries of any financial instruments or bank instrument, with which they can go to the bank to carry out such transaction; they made such cash payments without going through any financial institution and concealed, retained and used same.
“Any person who contravene any provisions of the money laundering Act, is liable upon conviction, to an imprisonment term of not less than seven years imprisonment and not more than 14 years imprisonment.
“To prove its case, the prosecution need not call all the witnesses, but only such witnesses necessary to prove its case.
“In the light of the forgoing, I hereby find the accused guilty of the charge, ” the court held