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Ochekpe, ex-water resources minister, arraigned over N450m Diezani bribe

Sarah Ochekpe, former Minister of Water Resources, has been arraigned to court by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over a N450 million bribe she allegedly received from Diezani Alison-Madueke, former Minister of Petroleum Resources.

Ochekpe and two other accused persons were arraigned before Justice H. M. Kurya of the Jos division of the Federal High Court, on two-count charge bordering on money laundering.

The two others, Leo Sunday Jitong and Raymond Dabo, were the State Deputy Director for Goodluck/Sambo 2015 election campaign and former Acting Chairman of PDP, Plateau State, respectively.

According to the EFCC, the defendants were alleged to have received the sum of N450 million out of N23 billion deployed by Alison-Madueke to influence the 2015 presidential election.

“Investigations showed that after receiving the money in their custody, the headquarters of Fidelity Bank Plc used its state branches to channel the distribution of the election loot through CBN to individual states of the Federation,” read a statement signed by Samin Amaddin, EFCC’s Acting Head of Media and Publicity.

One of the charges read: “That you, Sarah Ringim Ochekpe, Evan Leo Sunday Jitong, Raymond Dabo and Mrs Diezani Alison Madueke (now at large) sometimes in March, 2015 at Jos, Plateau State of Nigeria within the Jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, without going through the Financial Institution, did conspire amongst yourselves to accept cash payment of the sum of Four Hundred and Fifty Million Naira (N450,000,000.00) from MRS. DIEZANI ALISON MADUEKE through Fidelity Bank Plc which sum exceeded the amount authorised by Law and thereby committed an offence contrary to the provisions of Section 18 (a), Section 16 (1) (d) of the Money Laundering  (prohibition) Act 2012 (as amended) and Punishable under Section 16 (2) (b) of the same Act.”

The defendants pleaded not guilty to the charge.

The presiding judge granted the bail on self-recognition, but added that the bail bond must be countersigned by the defence counsel.

He subsequently adjourned the case to February 13 and 14 for hearing.

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