Home » Corruption Politics, Headlines, Rivers, State News » Alleged Wike’s bribe: FCT judge transfers INEC officers’ trial to P’Harcourt

Alleged Wike’s bribe: FCT judge transfers INEC officers’ trial to P’Harcourt

Ade Adesomoju, Abuja

Justice John Tsoho of the Federal High Court in Abuja on Monday transferred to the Port Harcourt Division of the court the charges filed against 23 officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission who were accused of receiving N360m bribe from the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, in connection with the December 10, 2016 rerun elections in the state.

The judge, ruling on the notice of preliminary objection filed by the electoral officers challenging the jurisdiction of the court to hear the case in Abuja, held that the charges ought to be filed in the Rivers State capital, Port Harcourt, where the offences were allegedly committed.

Although Justice Tsoho agreed with the lead prosecuting counsel, Mr. Aminu Alilu, that the defendants ought to be arraigned with their plea taken before filing their preliminary objection, the judge held that the development was not “fatal” to the case.

In dismissing the prosecution’s opposition to the defendants’ application, Justice Tsoho ruled that the prosecution was unable to provide any cogent evidence of insecurity in Port Harcourt to justify the filing of the charges in Abuja.

“There is absence of evidence that there is a situation of pervasive insecurity in Port Harcourt,” the judge ruled.

He ruled that in the absence of any evidence of “pervasive” state of insecurity peculiar to Port Harcourt, as painted by the prosecution, the provisions of Section 93 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 and Section 45 of the Federal High Court Act, which both provided that charges must be filed in the area or place where the alleged offences were committed “shall apply.”

He held that the impression created by the prosecution that there was “pervasive insecurity” in Port Harcourt and that the city was ungovernable, was not backed by any evidence.

“I do not find any evidence to the effect that Rivers State has been ungovernable,” the judge ruled.

He ruled that photographs presented to the court by the prosecution showing “frightening” pictures of victims of “gruesome” murder allegedly during the rerun had the “problem of identification and location.”

He also agreed with the defence lawyers, Mr. Ahmed Raji (SAN), U.O. Ukairo and E.A. Nwuwa, to the effect that it was the defendants who should be afraid of insecurity and not the Federal Government, which is the prosecutor and had the responsibility of providing security not just in Port Harcourt but for the entire country.

Relying on Section 32(1) of the Federal High Court Act, Justice Tsoho ordered that the case should “be transferred to the Port Harcourt Division of the Federal High Court for the arraignment of the defendants and it is so ordered.”

The Office of the Attorney General of the Federation had on March 7, 2017 filed seven counts against the 23 defendants for allegedly receiving N360m bribe from  Wike in connection with the December 10, 2016 rerun elections in River State.

The accused persons named in the charges marked  FHC/ABJ/CR/42/2017, were said to include three state coordinators of the electoral body.

The prosecution, in the charges, alleged that the N360m bribe which  the 23 defendants allegedly received from Wike represented proceeds of the governor’s criminal conduct and constituted economic and financial crimes.

The 23 INEC officials allegedly between December 7 and 10, 2016 “converted,” “concealed,”  “were in possession” and “used” the sum of   N360m bribe in violations of various provisions of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 and the Economic and Financial Crimes (Establishment, etc) Act, 2004.

The accused persons included Shittu Lamido (Shettima), Henry Owokure, Peter Ewetade, Mrs. Mary Jummai Tunkoyo Pennap, Gwatana Jibril, Ivase Stephen and Abdullahi Ogabo.

Also named as part of the defendants were Gayus Hassan, Hussaini Yahaya, James Ogwuche, Karimu Aminu and Adedokun Ayotunde.

The defendants also included Balogun Funmilayo, Adams Kadiri, Akinwande  Adesoji, Lukeman Olabimpe and Tiamiyu Arowolo.

The rest were Akinwoye Amodu, Nwoha Yusuf, Patrick Anuke, Iro Abali, Nwosu Oluchi and Arukwe Chinelo.

-Punch

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Posted by on May 15 2017. Filed under Corruption Politics, Headlines, Rivers, State News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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