Two ex-officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Nwosu Christian and Tijani Bashir, who are standing trial before the Federal High Court, Lagos, for allegedly receiving N264 million bribe from former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, to rig the 2015 general election, have been re-arrested.
They were apprehended by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) yesterday after proceedings at the court’s premises. They are standing trial before Justice Mohammed Idris.
No official reason was given for the arrest of the two former INEC employees, but it was learnt that their arrest was in connection with a fresh discovery by EFCC that they allegedly diverted N450 million to a company called Advaita Nigeria Limited, through an INEC cashier.
Bashir was alleged to be a director in the company. The source also claimed that Nwosu was a signatory to an account where the money was hidden, and his wife received N11.8 million. The commission said Bashir got N25 million through a company called Heiza Nigeria, owned by his relative, Saliu Yakubu.
The EFCC had arraigned the accused persons on a six-count charge bordering on receiving N264 million bribe allegedly from Alison-Madueke to rig the 2015 elections.
Nwosu, former administrative secretary of INEC in Kwara State, had earlier admitted in a plea bargain to collecting the money. He, however, backed out of the deal after the rejection of the terms of the agreement by the trial judge.
He was subsequently re-arraigned alongside Bashir on an amended charge by the EFCC. They both pleaded not guilty to the charge.
Earlier, an investigating officer with the anti-graft agency, Usman Zakari, tendered Nwosu’s account statements, showing details of the N30 million. Zakari claimed that Nwosu received N17 million through his Diamond Bank account and N13 million through his Union Bank account.
He also tendered some title documents of land allegedly acquired by Nwosu with some of the funds.
After the documents were admitted in evidence, the prosecution closed its case.
Defence counsel, Victor Opara, said his client would file a no-case submission, meaning they do not intend to call any witness to defend the case because they believe the prosecution’s case is weak.
After the proceedings, Nwosu and his co-accused were arrested. Nwosu had claimed that the N30 million he collected was for logistics during the election and that his office knew how the money was spent. He also said the money was shared to INEC ad hoc staff for logistics. Nwosu had earlier claimed that the EFCC forced him to surrender his property worth N30 million and that he was induced to part with N5 million in a bid to regain his freedom.
According to him, the statements he made to the EFCC were dictated to him while the one he made voluntarily was described as “rubbish.”
Justice Idris adjourned till March 7 for hearing of the no-case submission.