By Ese Awhotu with agency report
A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has ordered the temporary forfeiture of a total of N387m found in the bank accounts of four ex-officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
The forfeiture order was obtained by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC as the agency told the court that the ex-INEC officials benefitted from the N23bn, which a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke, allegedly doled out to influence the 2015 presidential election in favour of then incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan.
Usman Zakari, an investigator with the EFCC, alleged in an affidavit that the ex-INEC officials received the money through a non-governmental organisation, West Africa Network of Observers, which they formed to purportedly monitor the 2015 general elections.
He said that, the NGO, WANEO, had a former INEC Chairman, Prof Maurice Iwu, as its National Coordinator.
Zakari alleged that though “WANEO was formed under the guise of monitoring the conduct of 2015 election, distribution of Permanent Voter Cards, sensitisation of voters, delimitation of electoral constituencies, etc, its primary objective was to ensure the victory of the PDP candidate in the presidential election.”
According to him, the ex-INEC officials facilitated the disbursement of N510m Diezani fund to Osun, Ogun and Oyo states through WANEO, His words; “After the conduct of the 2015 presidential election and in order to conceal the sources of the money collected by Ogun, Osun and Oyo states, the remainder of the money was fraudulently laundered.”
Zakari said the EFCC had, however, recovered N387m out of the N510m from the four ex-INEC officials.
The EFCC gave the names of the said ex-INEC officials as Victor Chukwuani, Okesiji Adeniran, Gabriel Oke and Torgba Nyitse.
Counsel for the EFCC, Nnaemeka Omenwa, urged Justice Muslim Hassan, on Monday, to order the temporary forfeiture of the N387m pursuant to Section 17 of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act, No. 14, 2004.
He said it would be in the interest of justice for the temporary forfeiture order to be made.
After listening to him, Justice Hassan granted the ex parte application.
The court gave 14 days for anyone interested in the money to appear before him to show cause why the N387m should not be permanently forfeited to the Federal Government.
The case was adjourned till August 6, 2018 for continuation of hearing.