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Court Jail INEC Chiefs 7 Years Over Diezani Bribe [Update]

Judge says "their actions were a disgrace to the institution and a threat to democracy"

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The Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has, on Friday, slammed a 7 years jail sentence on a former Independent National Electoral Commission [INEC] Administrative Secretary in Kwara State, Mr. Christian Nwosu,

His case mate, Mr Tijani Bashir, was similarly sentenced to seven years on similar charges.

The duo were arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission [EFCC] him for accepting bribe from former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, to rig 2015 general elections.

The defendants accepted gratification to the tune of N264,880,000 being an unlawful act.

It could be recalled that Mr. Nwosu had initially pleaded guilty at his arraignment on April 5, 2017but said he received only N30 million from Mrs. Alison-Madueke.

He, however, changed his plea to not guilty when he was re-arraigned but was later convicted by the federal judge.

Mr. Bashir was indicted of receiving part of the N164,880,000 slush funds.

According to the evidence, he also concealed N30 million, being part of the proceeds of the funds.

The presiding judge, Justice Mohammed Idris found both of them guilty but reserved judgment due to Nwosu’s absence owing to Ill-health.

Reading the judgement on Friday, Justice Idris sentenced both of them to seven years each on count nine.

The judge also ordered the forfeiture of property in Asaba, the Delta capital worth N25 million, as well as N5 million cash seized from Nwosu.

Bashir is also to lose his Abuja property.

Justice Idris ruled: “The convicts were officials of INEC and were expected to conduct themselves as impartial umpires in carrying out their activities.

“I understand it to be the mission of INEC to serve as an independent and effective election management body that is committed to the conduct of free, fair and credible election for sustainable democracy in Nigeria.

“These convicts by their conduct acted in breach of these objectives. Their actions were a disgrace to the institution and a threat to democracy.

“INEC officials must be made to understand that their conduct must be within the ambit of the law and that anyone who breaches the law will be dealt with to the full extent of the law.

“It must be understood that leadership and governance are serious matters that should be handed over to the most patriotic, best informed minds and the brightest brains for purposes of accountability, responsibility and prosperity of our nation.

“This country must not be allowed to descend into anarchy, despondency and political infamy by the conduct of an official of government.

“This country cannot afford an unhealthy electoral body as we go into the forthcoming election. INEC must note that this country deserves a credible election. Anyone that acts contrary to the law will be dealt with.

“In this regard, the country only needs those with indomitable courage and impeccable political will to perform this duty and those who play ignoble role must be identified.

“Evil communication, they say, corrupts good manners. In the light of the alocutus, the court will temper justice with mercy to the extent only permitted by the law.

“Again, a strong message must be sent to INEC that the eyes of the world is on them. The entire nation is watching and those who decide contrary to their code of office will be identified.

“When they are identified, they will be prosecuted and if found guilty will be punished severely.”

Handing the final verdict, Justice Idris sentenced Nwosu to seven years imprisonment on counts one and two, and five years on counts three and four.

He sentenced Bashir to seven years on count five, and seven years on counts six, seven and eight.

Justice Idris sentenced them both to seven years each on count nine.

The sentences are to run concurrently, the judge held.

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