A banker has testified at the Federal High Court Lagos in the suit against two officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on charges of receiving bribe from the former Minister of Petroleum, Mrs Diezani Allison-Madueke.
The prosecution witness, Timothy Olaobaju told Justice Mohammed Idris that the INEC officials – Christian Nwosu and Yisa Adedoyin – allegedly received the sum of N264m in cash.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had alleged that the money was deployed by the former minister for the purpose of rigging the 2015 general elections.
While Yisa Adedoyin pleaded guilty to the charges and has been convicted on a plea bargain agreement with the EFCC, Nwosu and a third defendant, one Tijani Inda Bashir pleaded not guilty and elected to stand trial.
Responding to questions from the EFCC’s counsel at the resumption of the trial on Wednesday, Olaobaju, who was his bank’s head of operations in Ilorin, said he paid Nwosu and Adedoyin the cash based on Mrs Alison-Madueke’s instructions.
“I was the head of operations for Ilorin Branch where 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 Limited, Actus Integrated Limited, 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 $89m was paid into the accounts; a cash sum of $25m was brought, totaling $114m. The money was kept in the bank pending her instruction as agreed. On March 26, 2014, we got an instruction that the money should be converted to naira. After it was converted, it was about N23bn. 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,” he said.
The witness told the court that the defendants came to his office to collect the cash payment, stressing 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 an instruction from Mrs Alison-Madueke and they were paid. They signed a receipt of payment for the money they collected,” he added.
Olaobaju said after the defendants were paid, they left with the cash and did not pay it into any account.
Under cross-examination by the defence counsels, 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 stated.