The stew of the former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, must be very sweet for it to drag two former officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to jail. 

While the woman is still outside Nigeria, lounging, Christian Nwosu and Tijani Bashir, will have to go and taste what it is like in Nigeria's prison and they will be there for 7 years. 

A Federal High Court in Lagos on Friday sentenced the two ex-officials of INEC to seven years’ imprisonment each.

The convicts were charged with 264.8 million Naira gratification and money laundering.

They received the gratification from Alison-Madueke, in the build-up to the 2015 general elections.

Nwosu and Bashir were prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). 

Justice Mohammed Idris, who has been elevated to the Court of Appeal, concluded the case on fiat, on Friday.

“The convicts were or are officials of INEC and expected to conduct themselves as impartial umpires in carrying out their activities.

“I understand it to be the mission of INEC to serve as an independent and effective election management body that is committed to the conduct of free, fair and credible elections for sustainable democracy in Nigeria.

“These convicts, by their conduct, acted in breach of the said objectives; their actions were a disgrace to the institution and a threat to democracy.  

“INEC officials must be made to understand that their conducts must be within the ambit of the law, and that anyone who breaches the law would be dealt with to the full extent of the law,” the judge held.

'The World Is Watching'

He said that Nigeria  should not be allowed to descend into anarchy, despondency, financial, political or moral infamy by the conduct of an official of government.

“This country cannot afford an unhealthy electoral body as we go into the forthcoming elections; INEC must note that this country deserves a credible election.

“Anyone that acts contrary to the law, will be dealt with; the country only needs those with indomitable courage and impeccable political will to perform this duty, and those who play ignoble role must be identified.

“Evil communication, they say, corrupts good manners.

“In light of the alocutus, the court will tamper justice with mercy to the extent only permitted by the law.

“Again, a strong message must be sent to INEC that the eyes of the world is on it; the entire nation is watching, and those who decide to act contrary to their code of office will be identified," Justice Idris emphasised.

Idris said that when identified, such people should  be prosecuted and severely punished, if found guilty.

“It is in this circumstance and in the light of all that have been said in the alocutus that the court hereby sentences the convicts as follows:

“For the first and second convicts, you are hereby sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment each on count one, seven years on count two, five years on count three, and five years on count four.

Also Read: I Have Not Resigned, I’m Still The CJN - Onnoghen

“For the second convict, Mr Bashir, you are hereby sentenced to seven years’ each on counts five to eight.

“Both convicts are sentenced to seven years each on count nine. All sentences are to run concurrently,”  Idris held.

He ordered forfeiture, to the Federal Government, of two landed property in Delta, belonging to Nwosu and seized by the EFCC and worth 5 million Naira and 20 million Naira, respectively.

The judge also ordered that 5 million Naira recovered from him should be forfeited to the Federal Government.

Idris also ordered forfeiture, to the government, of Bashir’s the landed property at No. 6, Umi St., Wuse, Abuja, valued at 27 million Naira.

Earlier,  Nwosu’s counsel, Mr Victor Opara, prayed the court to temper justice with mercy, saying that his client  was a first-time offender.

“My lord, he is a 64-year-old man, father of four; I beg your lordship to take his ailing health condition into consideration. Furthermore, he has served the Federal Government for 35 years,” Opara said.

Mr K.I. Marcus, counsel to Bashir, adopted the submission of Opara, adding that Bashir lost his wife in October 2018 and had four children to provide for.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the EFCC charged the ex-officials along with one Yisa Adedoyin, who had been convicted by the court after he pleaded guilty to the charge.

If you enjoyed reading this and our other stories, please, share with friends and loved ones.

Oby Ezekwesili Steps Down From Presidential Race