Rivers rerun: INEC officials named, face seven counts for receiving N350m from Wike

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The Federal Government, on Tuesday, filed seven counts, comprising money laundering and economic crimes-related offences against 23 officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission before the Federal High Court in Abuja.

The INEC officials were accused of receiving N350m from Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State in connection with the rerun elections which took place in the state on December 10, 2016.
The prosecution, in the suit with number FHC/ABJ/CR//42/2017, alleged that the sum of N350m represented proceeds of Wike’s criminal conduct as well as economic and financial crimes.
The 23 INEC officials allegedly between December 7 and 10, 2016 converted, concealed, were in possession of and used the sum of N350m bribe in violations of various provisions of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 and the Economic and Financial Crimes (Establishment, etc) Act, 2004.
The PUNCH had, on March 2, exclusively reported that 23 INEC officers, including three state coordinators of the electoral body, among others, would soon be charged with money laundering and other offences.
The PUNCH also reported on Tuesday that INEC would, this week, suspend the indicted officers.
The accused persons named in the charges, filed on Tuesday, are Shittu Mohammed Lamido (Shettima), Henry Owokure, Peter Ewatade, Mrs. Mary Jummai Tunkoyo Pennap, Gwatana Jibril, Ivase Stephen and Abdullahi Ogabo.
Others include Gayus Hassan, Hussaina Yahaya, James Ogwuche, Karimu Aminu and Adedokun Najeem Ayotunde.
Also named in the charge sheet are Balogun Funmilayo, Adams Kadiri, Akinwande Adesoji, Lukeman Olabimpe and Tiamiyu Arowolo.
The rest are Akinwoye Amodu, Nwoha Yusuf, Patrick Anuke, Iro Abali, Nwosu Oluchi and Arukwe Chinelo.
In Count 1, the defendants “all electoral officers and staff of the Independent National Electoral Commission between December 7 to 10, 2016 at Port Harcourt, Rivers State, did conspire to convert the sum of N350,000,000 directly from bribery and corruption in connection with the Rivers State re-run election which took place on December 10, 2016” to personal use.
The offence of conspiracy was said to be contrary to Section 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 and punishable under Section 15 of the same Act.
In Count 2, the prosecution alleged that the accused persons, “did convert the sum of N350,000,000 being money derived directly from bribery and corruption in connection with the Rivers State rerun election, which took place on December 10, 2016, with the aim of concealing the illicit origin of the money.”
The offence of “conversion of money derived directly from bribery and corruption” was said to be contrary to Section 15(1)(a)(ii) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 and punishable under the same section of the Act.
In Count 3, it was alleged that the accused persons “did collaborate to conceal the sum of N350,000,000 being money derived directly from bribery and corruption in connection with the Rivers State rerun election which took place on December 10, 2016.”
In Count 4, it was alleged that the defendants “all electoral officers and staff of the Independent National Electoral Commission between December 7 and 10, 2016, at Port Harcourt, Rivers State, did commit an offence to wit: possession of the sum of N350,000,000, being money you received from Governor Ezenwo Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, knowing that the said money represented proceeds of bribery and corruption in connection with the Rivers State rerun election which took place on December 10, 2016.”
The offence is allegedly contrary to Section 17(b) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 and punishable under the same section of the Act.
The prosecution alleged in Count 5 that the defendants “all electoral officers and staff of the Independent National Electoral Commission between December 7 and 10, 2016, at Port Harcourt, Rivers State, did commit an offence to wit: used the sum of N350,000,000 being money you received from Governor Ezenwo Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, knowing that the said money represented proceeds of bribery and corruption in connection with the Rivers State rerun election which took place on December 10, 2016.”
The prosecution also in Count 6 alleged that the accused persons, “all electoral officers and staff of the Independent National Electoral Commission between December 7 and 10, 2016, at Port Harcourt, Rivers State, did commit an offence to wit: possession of the sum of N350,000,000 being money you received from Governor Ezenwo Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, knowing that the said money represented proceeds of economic and financial crime to wit: bribery and corruption in connection with the Rivers State rerun election which took place on December 10, 2016.”
The offence is said to be contrary to Section 17(b) of the Economic and Financial Crimes (Establishment, etc) Act, 2004, and punishable under the same Act.
It alleged in Count 7 that the defendants “did commit an offence to wit: used the sum of N350,000,000, being money you received from Governor Ezenwo Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, knowing that the said money represented proceeds of economic and financial crime to wit: bribery and corruption in connection with the Rivers State rerun election which took place on December 10, 2016.”
The case has not been assigned to a judge and no date has been fixed for the arraignment of the accused persons.
Source: punch

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