Diezani’s Bribe: Court Assumes Jurisdiction over INEC Staff Trial

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Justice Muhammed Idris of the Federal High Court in Lagos has assumed the jurisdiction in the trial of an official of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Christian Nwosu, who was accused of receiving the sum of N30 million from former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Allison-Madueke, to compromise the 2015 general election.

Nwosu had earlier admitted collecting the money in a plea bargain arrangement he had with the anti-graft agency. However, he had to back out following the rejection of the terms of agreement by the judge.

He was subsequently re-arraigned alongside another INEC official, Tijani Bashir, on an amended charge by the EFCC. They however pleaded not guilty to the charge.

Following their re-arraignment, EFCC lawyer, Rotimi Oyedepo, urged Justice Idris to transfer the case file to the Chief Judge of the court, Justice Ibrahim Auta, for re-assignment to another judge.

According to him, it is trite that a judge who had heard and rejected a plea bargain agreement of a defendant can no longer preside over the matter in the event that the defendant decides to change his plea.

He said though the commission has full confidence in the ability of the judge to handle the case, it would be in the interest of justice to allow another judge take over the matter in line with the provisions of Section 270(15) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA).

However, in its application, Nwosu urged the judge to reject the EFCC’s request and continue in his handling of the matter.
Arguing the application, Nwosu’s lawyer, Victor Opara, said the court had assumed jurisdiction in the matter the