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Igbinedion begs to refund over N500m, lose properties

Posted by From Yusuf Alli, Managing Editor, Northern Operation on 2008/12/18 | Views: 1525 |

Igbinedion begs to refund over N500m, lose properties


Former Governor of Edo State Lucky Igbinedion has opted for plea bargaining in his ongoing trial by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for alleged corruption.

Former Governor of Edo State Lucky Igbinedion has opted for plea bargaining in his ongoing trial by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for alleged corruption.
His plea bargaining application will be heard by the Federal High Court in Enugu today.

Igbinedion has been standing trial for a 156-count charge of money laundering, corruption and crime in office.

He was at the headquarters of the EFCC yesterday to finalise the terms of his plea bargaining.

It was learnt that the former governor had opened negotiations with the EFCC in the last four weeks on his intention to enter into a plea bargaining deal.

A highly-placed source said: "Following Igbine-dion’s notice, the anti-graft commission raised a committee, headed by one of his respected prosecutors, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs, to consider the merit or otherwise of his application.

"The committee advised the EFCC to accede to Igbinedion’s request since the three other major convictions recorded by the commission under its former Chairman, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, was through plea bargaining.

"You know the prosecution of Tafa Balogun, ex-Governor DSP Alamieyeseigha, and Emmanuel Nwude were settled through plea bargaining which was far-reaching.

"So far, we have reached mutual terms with the ex-governor, who has met with the Chairman of the EFCC, Mrs. Farida Waziri, several times.

"Igbinedion has agreed to refund over N500million stolen funds and forfeit some properties to the Federal Government.

"The issue of plea bargaining will dominate the continuation of hearing of his case by the Federal High Court in Enugu on Thursday."

The EFCC legal team left last night for Enugu for today’s session but it could not be ascertained if Igbinedion would be in court.

Asked why the EFCC succumbed to plea bargaining with Igbinedion despite the opposition of Mrs. Waziri to it, the source said: "Most of our cases are stalled in various courts and we have to agree to legally acceptable alternative.

"We are aware that our chairman has opposed plea bargaining and vehemently spoken against it at different fora but some senior lawyers working for the EFCC have advised the commission not to oppose it since it is a legal provision in our criminal statute.

"And apart from recovery of funds and properties, the affected suspect will carry the tag of ex-convict. So, we decided to accept Igbinedion’s plea bargaining to hasten his trial."

Contacted, the Head of Media and Publicity of the EFCC, Mr. Femi Babafemi, said: "I only know that the matter is coming up in court in Enugu on Thursday but I do not have the details."

The trial of Igbinedion started on January 22, 2008 after the initial charges of 142 were amended to read 155-count.

The ex-governor was arraigned alongside three corporate persons—Gava Corporation limited; Kiva Corporation Limited; and Ekpen and Sons Limited.

The former governor was accused of having, on June 27, 2003, procured Gava Corporation Limited (owned by Gabriel Igbinedion and his family) to retain about N1,309.594 billion which was part of the funds illegally withdrawn from the account of the Edo State Government.

All the charges against Igbinedion are contrary to Section 17 and punishable under Section 16 of the Money laundering (Prohibition) Act 2003.

The court will determine Igbinedion’s jail term after hearing his application for plea bargaining.

His sentence may be retroactive and he may not spend a day in prison.

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Fay(Katy, Texas, US)says...

Actually translates to bravehearted.