N450m Bribe: Ex-Minister Ochekpe, Ex-Plateau PDP Chair, Others Get Six Years Jail Term

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A Federal High Court sitting in Jos, the Plateau State capital, yesterday sentenced a former Minister of Water Resources, Sarah Ochekpe, to six years imprisonment for money laundering.

She was a minister in former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration.

Justice Haruna Musa Kurya sentenced the ex-minister with a former Plateau State acting Chairman of the People Democratic Party (PDP), Raymond Dabo, and the State Coordinator of Jonathan Campaign Organisation, Evangelist Leo Sunday Jitong, for the offence.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) arraigned the accused persons before the court in 2018 on three counts, including receiving N450 million from a former Minister of Petroleum, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, to finance the re-election campaign of former President Goodluck Jonathan and his vice in the 2015 general election.

EFCC prosecution lawyer Yusuf Muchaka said the accused persons breached the law by receiving money they knew was beyond the threshold that the law allowed and was also corruptly sourced.

He supported the charge with an affidavit sworn to by Olayinka Rotimi, an operative with commission who was part of the team that investigated the case.

A Fidelity Bank worker, Mrs. Anne Gyen, told the Jos Division of the Federal High Court 2 that she cashed out N450 million for Ochekpe and the two others in 2015.

She added: “Ochekpe presented her ID card of the Federal Ministry of Water Resources, while Dabo presented his Voter’s Card and Evangelist Jitong presented a driver’s licence and I gave them a withdrawal instrument which required them to write their names, signatures and phone numbers.”

The banker tendered the withdrawal documents in support of her oral testimony.

But defense counsel, Sunday Oyawole, argued that the witness was not the maker of the tendered documents and he urged the court to discard them.

A statement after the judgment by EFCC spokesman Wilson Uwujaren said: “The defendants were convicted on Count One, bordering on conspiracy to accept cash payment above threshold under the Money Laundering Prohibition Act, 2012 (as amended) and sentence to three years imprisonment with an option of N2,000,000.00 fine each.

“On Count Two, the defendants were convicted and sentenced to three years imprisonment with an option of N2,000,000 fine each. The sentences are to run consecutively.

“The court discharged and acquitted them on Count Three, which borders on retention of funds.”

THE NATION………

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