Bribery Allegations: EFCC Seeks Transfer Of Case Against INEC Official

A Federal High Court in Lagos will on May 24, decide whether or not to hands off the case of one Christian Nwosu, an official of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), accused of receiving the sum of 30 million Naira from a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Diezani Allison-Madueke.
Mr Nwosu and some INEC officials had allegedly received the bribe from the former minister for the purpose of compromising the 2015 general elections.
Nwosu had earlier admitted to collecting the money in a plea bargain agreement 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’s 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 will 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 his application, Nwosu urged the judge to reject the EFCC’s request and continue to hear his matter.
Arguing over the application, Nwosu’s lawyer, Victor Opara, said the court had assumed jurisdiction on the matter the moment the plea of the defendants were taken, based on the amended charge filed against them by the EFCC.
He further noted that transferring the case to another judge will slow down the proceedings.

After listening to the arguments of parties in the matter, the judge adjourned the case till May 24.

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