By Oladapo Okeowo with agency report
A former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Allison-Madueke, was arraigned for money laundering by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Wednesday.
The former minister was arraigned alongside three officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) at a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos state.
The INEC officials, named as Christian Nwosu, Yisa Olarenwaju and Tijani Bashir, and Allison-Madueke, who was described in the charge as “still at large”, are charged with seven counts of money laundering.
The charges were read to the accused there present.Nwosu, pleaded guilty to the charges, while Adedoyin and Bashir pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The INEC officials are accused of graft involving the ex-petroleum minister. They are alleged to have taken possession of the sum of about N264 million which they reasonably ought to have known formed part of the proceeds of an unlawful act of gratification.
They also are accused of transferring between each other large sums of money, which exceeded the amount authorised by law, without involving a financial institution.
The offences are said to have contravened the provisions of sections 15 (3), 16 (2) and 18 (a) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Amendment Act, 2012.
Nwosu pleaded guilty to the charges while Adedoyin and Bashir pleaded not guilty.
Thereafter, the counsel to the EFCC, Rotimi Oyedepo informed the trial judge, Justice Mohammed Idris, that Nwosu had elected to enter a plea bargain with the Commission.
This decision was confirmed by Nwosu’s lawyer, Adeku Nbangba, after Oyedepo disclosed that Nwosu had made a refund of N5 million and surrendered the title document of a landed property he purchased for N25 million in Delta state.
The judge adjourned till April 7 for sentencing, granted Adedoyin and Bashir bail in the sum of N50m each, give the court registrar their international passports and ordered that Nwosu remain in EFCC custody.