Justice Hilary Oshomah of the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt has ordered the remand of the Independent National Electoral Commission’s 23 employees accused of receiving N360m bribe from the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, in connection with the December 10, 2016 national and state assembly re-run in the state.
The judge on Friday ordered the defendants to be remanded in the Port Harcourt prison after the Federal Government arraigned them on amended 10 counts of money laundering.
Justice Oshomah had granted bail to each of them in the sum of N10m with two sureties in like sum but ordered that they be remanded in prison pending when they would meet the conditions.
It was learnt that the defendants were still in custody as of Sunday.
The defendants remanded by the court included, Shittu Mohammed Lamido (Shettima), Henry Owokure, Peter Ewetade, Mrs. Mary Jummai Tunkoyo Pennap, Gwatana Jibril, Ivase Stephen and Abdullahi Ogabo.
Also named as part of the defendants were, Gayus Hassan, Hussaini T. Yahaya, James Ogwuche, Karimu F. Aminu, Adedokun Najeem Ayotunde, Balogun Funmilayo and Adams O. Kadiri, Akinwande R. Adesoji, Lukeman Olabimpe and Tiamiyu R. Arowolo.
The rest were, Akinwoye Amodu, Nwoha Yusuf, Patrick Anuke, Iro Abali, Nwosu G. Oluchi and Arukwe Chinelo.
The prosecution led by Mr. Aminu Alilu of the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation had alleged that the N360m bribe which the 23 defendants allegedly received from Wike represented proceeds of the governor’s criminal conduct as well as economic and financial crimes.
It alleged that between December 7 and 10, 2016 the accused persons “converted,” “concealed,” “were in possession” and “used” the sum of N360m bribe in violations of various provisions of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 and Economic and Financial Crimes (Establishment, etc) Act, 2004.
Before the charges were read to the defendants on Friday, the lead prosecuting counsel, Alilu, applied to substitute the amended 10 counts with the original seven counts earlier filed on March 7, 2017.
After hearing their motions for bail, Justice Oshomah granted bail to the defendants.
The judge ruled that one of the two sureties must be a civil servant not below Grade Level 14 and must present a letter from his employer authorising him to stand as surety.
The sureties must also present both their appointment and promotion letters to the court.