Alleged N163.9m bribe: EFCC re-arraigns ex-Plateau REC, others

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on Thursday re-arraigned two former officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission on amended N163.9 million charge bordering on conspiracy and bribery.
NAN reports that the EFCC on March, 8, 2018 arraigned Dr. Godwin Kwanga, former INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner in Plateau State, and Jonathan Azi-Nyako, a retired INEC staff.
The two were charged alongside late Usman Baba-Bukar, former INEC Administrative Secretary in Plateau State, before a High Court in the state over bribery of INEC staff.
The anti-graft agency alleged that they bribed the electoral body’s staff in the 17 Local Government Areas of the state during the 2015 general elections.
They were alleged to have used their positions and conspired among themselves to bribe INEC Staff to influence the outcome of the elections in favour of one of the political parties.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the death of Baba-Bukar forced the anti-graft agency to amend the charges against the duo.
They pleaded not guilty to the new charges.
Earlier, the EFCC Counsel, A.M. Ocholi, had said: “Since the accused persons have entered their pleas of not guilty, l wish to proceed to call a witness, who is in court to testify.
“We are ready to continue with the matter today.”
However, Innocent Daa’gba, counsel to the former REC, told the court that he was not ready on the ground that he was only served with the amended charges in court.
Daa’gba said: “My lord, I am afraid we are not ready.
“We were only served with the amended charges this (Thursday) morning around 9:30am by the prosecution and will need time to study them to enable us prepare questions for the witnesses of the prosecution.
“We are also constrained as the prosecution has not told us how many witnesses they have or are bringing so that we can also prepare ours.
“We wish to apply for a short adjournment to enable us study the amended charges and equally do the needful for us to come properly for the hearing of the case.”
A. G. Yirvoms, Counsel to Azi-Nyako, did not object to the application.
Justice Christy Dabup adjourned the case until May 13 and 14 for continuation of hearing.
Nevertheless Kwanga and Azi-Nyako were allowed to continue to enjoy the administrative bail granted them by the court.