A former chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Maurice Iwu has been charged by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), over alleged involvement in financial crimes about five years ago.
Backstory: The EFCC told a Federal High Court (FHC) in Lagos that Professor Iwu aided the concealment of the sum of N1.2 billion, used to conduct illegal activities between December 2014 and March 2015. According to the EFCC, Iwu’s Bioresources Institute of Nigeria account with the United Bank of Africa was allegedly part of the ‘slush fund’ deployed by former petroleum minister, Diezani Allison-Madueke, in a bid to influence the outcome of the 2015 presidential elections in favour of the then ruling Peoples Democratic Party.
The undertone: The timing of the EFCC’s recent action against Iwu has gotten skeptics talking. The skeptics have labeled the agency’s latest move a “witch-hunt” that is targeting the legal challenge of the PDP’s presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, at the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal. Iwu served as an adviser on electoral issues for the campaign and is believed to have aided the opposition candidate’s challenge as a result of his deep connections at the commission.
- Recall that Justice Mohammed Idris of the FHC Lagos in January sentenced some INEC officials to seven years imprisonment for receiving bribes (from the Diezani slush fund) to compromise the polls.
- Likewise, today’s arrest of a lawyer and son-in-law to Atiku Abubakar by the EFCC, further fuels the claims that the agency is targeting the opposition candidate.
Update: Professor Iwu who was earlier remanded has on Friday been granted bail by the FHC to the tune of one billion Naira. His lawyers have said that the conditions of the bail are difficult to fulfill.