The Jigawa State High Court, sitting in Gumel, on Friday, convicted a Deputy Director of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Auwal Jibrin and one Garba Ismaila of a six-count charge bordering on unlawful enrichment and gratification.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had prosecuted the convict before the court.
Trouble started for the convicts after the Commission received intelligence report that they benefited from the $115,010,000 largesse of a former Minister of Petroleum, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, in the build-up to the 2015 presidential election.
Investigations, however, showed that they benefitted the sum of N45 million out of the N250 million disbursed in Jigawa State to influence the outcome of the election.
Upon arraignment, they pleaded “not guilty” to the charges thereby setting the stage for full trial.
During the course of trial, the prosecution presented five witnesses and tendered 20 exhibits to prove the case against them.
One of the charges reads: “That you, Auwal Jibrin, while being a public servant (Deputy Director with INEC, Dutse) sometime in 2015, at Dutse within the Judicial Division of this Honourable court dishonestly received the sum of N45 million from Garba Ismail, which you were not authorized to receive and you thereby committed an offence punishable under section 122 of the Penal Code.”
Delivering judgement, the trial Justice Birnin-Kudu held that: “The prosecution proved beyond reasonable doubt, all the elements and facts of the case as contained in the charge and the testimonies of prosecution witnesses and exhibits tendered.”
The court added that the defence team failed to counter the evidence presented by the prosecution through its witnesses.
Thus, the court found the first defendant guilty as charged on count two, while the second defendant was found guilty on counts one and three.
The court, however, discharged them on counts four, five and six.
Consequently, counsel for the EFCC, Mohammed Gambo, urged the court to sentence them accordingly.
Counsel representing the second defendant, Jonathan Methezidie, who also held the brief for counsel representing the first defendant pleaded with the court to temper justice with mercy in sentencing the defendants.
After listening to the plea of the defence for mercy, the trial judge sentenced the first defendant to seven years imprisonment without an option of fine on count one, while the second defendant who was the INEC Deputy Director was sentenced to six years each on counts one and three.
The court further ordered the final forfeiture of the recovered monies and properties attached to the investigation with the exception of a three-bedroom flat attached at No. 1 Hadeja Road, Birnin kudu, Jigawa State.