A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos on Thursday faulted a plea bargain agreement between the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and an Independent National Electoral Commission Official, Christian Nwosu.
Justice Mohammed Idris said the plea bargain arrangement for Nwosu, who was convicted on charges of money laundering, runs contrary to section 16 (2) (b) of the administration of criminal justice act.
The judge held that by the provisions of the Act, the appropriate sentence should be an imprisonment term of not less than two years or a fine in the sum of not less than N10m or both.
The EFCC had charged a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Allison-Madueke, and three officials of INEC for allegedly taking bribes to compromise the 2015 general elections.
The INEC officials, Christian Nwosu, Yisa Adedoyin and Tijani Bashir, were said to have on March 27, 2015 taken bribes from a former minister of petroleum resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke who is said to “still be at large”.
The defendant, Mr Christian Nwosu upon arraignment pleaded guilty to a charge of directly receiving and using the sum of N30m from a larger amount of N264.88m, which were said to be proceeds of crime.
Two of his colleagues, Yisa Adedoyin and Tijani Bashir however pleaded not guilty to the charges.
While the court convicted Nwosu, Adedoyin and Bashir were granted bail pending the commencement of their trial.
After Nwosu’s conviction, the EFCC informed the court of the plea agreement it had with him.
In his judgement today, Justice Idris held that the penalty set out in paragraph four of the plea bargain ran contrary to the provisions of section 16 (2) (b) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act.
Besides a forfeiture of two landed properties in Delta State, as well as a forfeiture of the sum of N5m recovered from the convict, paragraph 4 of the plea bargain also provides: “that a fine in the sum of N500,000 is proposed to the court, to be imposed on the first defendant upon his conviction. The agreement also provides that within seven days after payment of the fine, the convict shall enter into a bond with the EFCC, never to be involved in economic and financial crimes within and outside Nigeria.”
But the judge said since it contradicted the appropriate sentence prescribed by the Act, he found the plea bargain inadequate.
In the light of this new development, counsel to the first defendant (Nwosu) asked for a short adjournment to enable him discuss with his client on whether to proceed or change his plea.
The judge then adjourned the case to May 3 for continuation.
Source: Channels Tv