PDP chieftain, 2 INEC officials rearraigned over N179.8m fraud

The Deputy National Chairman (South) of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) Yemi Akinwonmi alongside two officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) were today, rearraigned before a Federal High Court, Lagos, on alleged N179.8 million fraud.

The two INEC officials who were rearraigned by the Economic and Financial  Crimes Commission (EFCC) alongside Akinwommi are: Dickson Atiba and Ogunmodede Oladayo.

The three defendants were first arraigned before Justice Sule Hassan, on July 30, 2018, during the court’s annual vacation, while they were granted bail by Justice (Professor) Chuka Austine Obiozor, on August 7, 2018, after arguing their bail applications by the counsel. While the matter was reassigned to Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke after the vacation.

Midway to the trial of the defendants, Justice Aneke withdrew from hearing the matter following application made to the court by the defence, consequently, the matter was reassigned to Justice Obiozor.

At the resumed hearing of the matter today, the EFCC’s lawyer, Rotimi Oyedepo, told the court about the rearraignment of the trio and urged the court to allow the charge to be read to them for their plea to be taken.

However, the defendants’ lead counsel, Edward Ayo-Odugbesan, informed the court that the plea of the defendants had been taken before the court and the court had also  admitted to bail likewise. 

Odugbesan also informed the court of his clients pending applications, one challenging court jurisdiction and the second for quashing of the charge.

He urged the court to hear the two applications before taken the plea of his clients.

But the presiding judge, Justice Obiozor, reminded the defendants’ counsel that what his court only did in the matter was hearing and determined the bail applications, as the defendants’ pleas were taken before his brother judge, Justice Hassan.

Justice Obiozor therefore ordered that the charge be read to the defendants to take their plea.

Following the judge’s order, the eight counts charge were read to the defendants and they all pleaded not guilty.

Following their plea, Odugbesan urged the court to let his clients to continued with the earlier bail granted them. His request was granted.

After the granting of the defendants bail, Odugbesan urged the court to hear his clients’ two applications. He told the court that the two applications have been served on the prosecution. Adding that the prosecution had replied to only one.

However, the prosecutor, Rotimi Oyedepo, told the court that his agency had replied to the two applications and same had been served on the defendants

Following the submission of EFCC lawyer, Odugbesan asked the court for short adjournment to enable the court to take argument on the applications.

Consequently, Justice Obiozor adjourned the matter till May 27.

The defendants are facing an eight count-charge bordering on conspiracy, by befitting from proceeds of crime, receiving various cash sums without going through financial institutions and accepting various cash sums exceeding amount authorized by the law.

They were accused of receiving the said money from Guaranty Trust Bank (GTB), United Bank for Africa (UBA), Stanbic/IBTC, Diamond Bank Plc, First City Monument Bank (FCMB) Skye Bank Plc and Diamond Bank Plc, sometimes in March 2015, during General Election

The offences according to the prosecution led by Rotimi Oyedepo are contrary to section 18 (a), 15(2)(d), 16 (d) 1(a), 16 (1) (d), and 16 (d) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 as Amended and punishable under 15 (3)(4) and 16 (2)(b)  of the same Act. 

The accused however pleaded not guilty to all the charges.

Count one of the the charge against the defendants read: “that you Yemi Akinwonmi, Dickson Atiba and Ogunmodede Oladayo sometimes in March, 2015 in Nigeria within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court conspired amongst yourselves to directly take possession of the sum of N179,800,000.00 (One Hundred and Seventy Nine Million, Eight Hundred Thousand Naira) which sum you reasonably ought to have know forms part of the proceeds of fraud and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 18 (a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 as Amended and punishable under 15 (3)and (4) of the same Act. 

Count two reads: “that you Yemi Akinwonmi, Dickson Atiba and Ogunmodede Oladayo sometimes in March, 2015 in Nigeria within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court directly took possession of the sum of N179,800,000.00 (One Hundred and Seventy Nine Million, Eight Hundred Thousand Naira) which sum you reasonably ought to have known forms part of the proceeds of fraud and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 15 (2) (d) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 as Amended and punishable under 15 (3) and (4) of the same Act. 

The third count read: “that you Yemi Akinwonmi and Dickson Atiba , Ogunmodede Oladayo sometimes in March, 2015 in Nigeria within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court without going through Financial institution received cash payment of the sum of N179,800,000.00 (One Hundred and Seventy Nine Million, Eight Hundred Thousand Naira) from Adeyinka Ayo-Aina  which sum exceeded the amount authorized by law  and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 16 (d) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 as amended and punishable under 16 (2) (b) of the same Act.

Count Four: “that Yemi Akinwonmi and Dickson Atiba on or about the 7th day of April 2015 in Nigeria within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court did conspire amongst yourselves to commit an offence, to wit: making and accepting cash payment of the sum of N69, 000,000.00 (Sixty Nine Million Naira only) which sum exceeded the amount authorized by law without going through financial institution and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 as Amended and punishable under Section 16 (2) (b) of the same Act.

Count five: “that  you Yemi Akinwonmi on or about the 7th day of April 2015 in Nigeria within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court without going through financial institution made cash payment of the sum of N59, 000,000.00 (Fifty Nine Million Naira only) which sum exceeded the amount authorized by law without going through financial institution and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 1(a), 16 (1) (d) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 as Amended and punishable under Section 16 (2) (b) of the same Act.

Count Six: “that you Dickson Atiba on or about the 7th day of April 2015 in Nigeria within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court without going through Financial institution accepted cash payment of N59, 000,000.00 (Fifty Nine Million Naira only) which sum exceeded the amount authorized by law and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 16 (d) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act 2012 and punishable under 16 (2) (b) of the same Act.

Count Seven: “that you Yemi Akinwonmi sometimes in  April 2015 in Nigeria within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court without going through financial institution made cash payment of the sum of N10, 000,000.00 (Ten Million Naira only) which sum exceeded the amount authorized by law without going through financial institution and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 1(a), 16 (1) (d) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 as Amended and punishable under Section 16 (2) (b) of the same Act.

Count Eight: “that Dickson Atiba sometimes in April 2015 in Nigeria within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court without going through Financial institution accepted cash payment of N10, 000,000.00 (Ten Million Naira only) which sum exceeded the amount authorized by law and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 16 (d) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act 2012 and punishable under 16 (2) (b) of the same Act.

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