A former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC,Prof. Maurice Iwu, has been remanded in prison for an alleged N1.23bn fraud.
Iwu was arraigned on four counts at the Federal High Court in Ikoyi, Lagos, by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on Thursday.
In the charges, the EFCC alleged that he committed the offence in the build-up to the 2015 general elections in which President Muhammadu Buhari defeated then incumbent, Goodluck Jonathan.
According to the EFCC, Iwu, between December 2014 and March 27, 2015, “Aided the concealment of N1.23bn in the account of Bio-resources Institute of Nigeria Limited with number 1018603119, domiciled in the United Bank for Africa.”
The EFCC further said Iwu, “Ought to have reasonably known that the N1.23bn formed part of proceeds of an unlawful act, to wit: fraud.”
The prosecuting counsel for the EFCC, Mr Rotimi Oyedepo, told the court that the ex-INEC boss acted contrary to sections 18(a) and 15 (2) (a) of the Money Laundering ((Prohibition) Act 2011 and was liable to be punished under Section 15(3) of the same Act.
When the charges were read to him, however, Iwu pleaded not guilty.
The prosecutor prayed the court for a trial date and an order remanding him in prison.
Iwu’s lawyer, Ahmed Raji, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, however, told Justice Chuka Obiozor that he had filed a bail application on behalf of his client, which had been served on the prosecution.
But Oyedepo, who said he only got a copy of the bail application in court on Thursday morning, told the judge that he intended to oppose it and therefore needed time to study it.
Following an agreement by the lawyers, Justice Obiozor adjourned till Friday to take arguments on the bail application, while directing that Iwu be returned to EFCC custody for the meantime.