• Court convicts one, another abandons plea bargain
By Lukman Olabiyi
One of the three employees of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) docked before the Federal High Court, Lagos, for allegedly accepting bribe from former Petroleum Minister, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, with the intent to rig the 2015 general election, has been convicted.
Justice Mohammed Idris convicted the accused, Yisa Olanrewaju Adedoyin, for receiving cash payment of N70,050,000.00 after he pleaded guilty to an amended charge.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) re-arraigned Olanrewaju alongside Christian Nwosu and Tijani India Bashir yesterday, for allegedly collecting N264.88 million bribe on March 27, 2015, from the former minister, ahead of the election.
In yesterday’s sitting, Nwosu, who had earlier pleaded guilty in a plea bargain he entered with the EFCC, abandoned his position and pleaded not guilty.
Justice Idris had rejected Nwosu’s 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 included 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, while Bashir maintained his not guilty plea.
Alison-Madueke, who was mentioned in the charge, was said to be at large.
Prosecuting counsel, Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo, urged the court to convict Adedoyin, in view of his fresh plea and to accept the plea bargain agreement reached with him on May 2.
In the plea bargain, it was agreed that Adedoyin would forfeit a parcel of land measuring 100ft by 100ft at Taoheed Road, Budo-Osho Village, Ilorin South Local Government Area of Kwara State.
Also, the agreement stated 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 N10 million, the defendant shall raise a draft of N5 million in addition to the sum of N5 million already recovered from him.”
Reviewing the facts of the case, Oyedepo said the EFCC received a report, late 2014, 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.
Oyedepo said: “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.”
He tendered the receipt and Adedoyin’s statement in evidence, saying: “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 (Bashir).
“Out of the N70 million, he only benefited N28 million, which has been forfeited. The property he acquired with it has been recovered. We have the deed of assignment and plan.”
The lawyer tendered the receipt of payment as well as bank draft of N5 million in favour of the EFCC Recovered Funds Main Account.
He urged the court to convict the defendant, in line with the terms of the plea bargain agreement.
Justice Idris ruled that: “From the facts, the second defendant benefited in the sum of N28 million, which has been fully recovered by the EFCC.
“The property of the second defendant in Ilorin has been recovered. According to the prosecution, this property is worth more than N25 million.”
“And a draft in the sum of N5million has been recovered and surrendered to the EFCC. In essence, assets and cash in excess of N30million have been recovered by EFCC.
“It’s not in contention that the second defendant is both elderly and a first time offender. Therefore, the court will temper justice with mercy.
“It is in the light of the above that I find the plea bargain agreement acceptable. It in consonance with the ACJA.”