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2015 poll: ‘Diezani gave N264m cash to bribe INEC officials’

The Federal High Court in Lagos was told yesterday that two Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) employees, Christian Nwosu and Yisa Adegoyin, received N264million from former Petroleum Minister Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke, allegedly to change the result of the 2015 general election.

A prosecution witness, Timothy Olaobaju, said the money was paid to Nwosu and Adedoyin in cash.

He was testifying while being led in evidence by prosecution counsel Rotimi Oyedepo in the trial of Nwosu and Tijani Inda Bashir before Justice Idris.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) accused them of receiving gratification from the former minister.

Adedoyin had pleaded guilty to the charge and was convicted following a plea bargain.

Olaobaju, who was his bank’s head of operations in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital, said he paid the Nwosu and Adedoyin the cash based on Mrs Alison-Madueke’s instructions.

“I was the Head of Operations for Ilorin Branch. I had cause to meet Nwosu and Adedoyin. Sometime in 2015, there was a meeting between our Managing Director and the former Petroleum Minister during which she explained that some companies and individuals would come to the bank to pay some money into some accounts.

“The companies were Northern Belt Ltd, Actus Integrated Ltd, Midwestern Company and one Mr Leno Laitan. In addition, she said certain individuals would bring some cash to be kept for her.

“A total sum of $89million was paid into the accounts. Cash sums of $25million was brought, totalling $114million. The money was kept in the bank pending her instruction as agreed.

“On March 26, 2014, we got instruction that the money should be converted to naira. After it was converted, it was about N23billion. There was a list of beneficiaries that was sent, to be paid across the 36 states of the federation, including Kwara. I handled the transactions in my branch,” the witness.

He said the defendants came to his office to collect the cash payment, and that he only acted on instruction.

“There was an instruction that Nwosu and Adedoyin be paid N264,880,000. The instruction came from the head office based on instruction from Mrs Alison-Madueke and they were paid. They signed a receipt of payment for the money they collected,” Olaobaju said.

Olaobaju said after the defendants were paid, they left with the cash and did not pay it into any account.

Under cross examination by defence counsel Obinna Okereke and Nelson Imoh, the witness said he did not know the purpose of the payment.

“The only instruction we had was that they should bring means of identification and should be paid. They even waited for the money to be released to them. We did not know the purpose of the payment,” he said.

Olaobaju said he did not hand over the money to Bashir, and never met Mrs Alison-Madueke; nor was he at the meeting where she gave the instructions.

“The instruction we received was through our Divisional Head of Operations who reports to the MD,” he added.

Justice Idris adjourned till today for continuation of trial.

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