Two Chieftains of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Bauchi State, Saleh Hussaini Gamawa and Aminu Umar Gadiya, have been convicted by a Federal High Court, Bauchi and sentenced to 2 years imprisonment for offences that bordered on conspiracy and money laundering to the tune of N142, 460,000.00 (One Hundred and Forty Two Million, Four Hundred and Sixty Thousand Naira).
Justice Hassan Dikko convicted the duo on March 2, while ruling on the two count charge brought against the defendants by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
The defendants were first arraigned on June 4, 2018 and re-arraigned on October 16, 2018 on a two count charge for allegedly receiving over N142million to influence the outcome of the 2015 presidential elections in Bauchi State.
Count one of the charge reads, “That you, Saleh Hussaini Gamawa and Aminu Umar Gadiya, all members of the Finance and Funds Disbursement Committee of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) 2015 General Elections, and in such capacities sometimes in March, 2015 in Bauchi State within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court did agree amongst yourselves to commit an offence, to wit; Conspiracy to accept cash payment exceeding the threshold provided by law, thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 18(a) and punishable under Section 16(2) (b) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2012( as amended) now No.1, 2012”.
Count two reads, “That you, Sale Hussaini Gamawa and Aminu Umar Gadiya, all members of the of the Finance and Funds Disbursement Committee of the peoples ‘Democratic Party (PDP) 2015 General Elections, and in such capacities sometimes in March, 2015 in Bauchi State within the jurisdiction of this Honourabe Court did accept cash payment of N142,460,000.00 ( One Hundred and Forty Two Million, Four Hundred and Sixty Thousand Naira) from the Directorate of Finance, Bauchi State PDP Campaign Organization exceeding the required threshold of cash payment, thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 1, 16(1)(d) and punishable under Section 16(2)(b) of the Money Laundering ( Prohibition)Act, 2011 (as amended) now No.1, 2012”.
The defendants had pleaded not guilty to the charges, setting the stage for the case to proceed to full trial. In the course of trial, the prosecution presented one witness and tendered documents marked as Exhibits A1, A2 and A3. Both defendants testified in their respective defence.
At the close of evidence, the final written addresses were filed, exchanged and adopted on January 17, 2023, with the prosecution asking the court to convict the defendants as charged. The defence, on the other hand, submitted that the evidence presented against the defendant by the prosecution was not credible and urged the court to discharge and acquit the defendants. Justice Dikko then reserved judgment for March 2, 2023.
In the well-considered judgment that lasted more than three hours, Justice Dikko reviewed the facts of the case and the submissions of counsel and arrived at the conclusion that the prosecution proved the cases against the defendants beyond reasonable doubt on count one and convicted them as charged. He however discharged and acquitted the 2nd defendant on count two.
According to justice Dikko, “the fact that the defendants in this instant case endorsed exhibit A1, A2 and A3 to receive cash to the tune of N142,460,,000.00, well in excess of the legal threshold designated by law, there can be no other conclusion but that the defendants conspired to so commit the offence and I am satisfied beyond reasonable doubt. It is rather astonishing that in the defence of the count, the defendants completely disregarded the damaging evidence of exhibits A1,A2,and A3, lying right before the Court. I therefore find the 1st and 2nd defendants guilty of conspiracy as charged in court one and are accordingly convicted”.
On Count two, he said, “I have relied almost entirely on Exhibits A1, A2 and A3, and a close scrutiny of the Exhibits demonstrates that the 1st defendant, Saleh Hussaini Gamawa received N105, 840,000.00 in Exhibit A1, N27, 650,000.00 in Exhibit A2 and N8, 970,000.00 in Exhibit A3, summing up to N142,460,000.00, all in the presence of, or witnessed by the 2nd defendant Aminu Umar Gadiya. The content of these documents leaves no one in doubt as to who received the money, that is Saleh Hussaini Gamawa (1st defendant) who is a natural person from the Bauchi State PDP Campaign Organization (Director of Finance) which is not a designated financial institution, and for the purpose of payment to participants during the National and Presidential Elections.
“The offence under Section 1 of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2012 is one of strict liability. The fact of the payment or receipt of cash in excess of the threshold alone is sufficient to ground a conviction as can be noticed in the exhibits before this court and again, I am satisfied beyond reasonable doubt. Consequently, I find the 1srt defendant guilty of the count and is accordingly convicted. The 2nd defendant is hereby discharged and acquitted on this count””.
In his allocutus, the 1st defendant urged the court to be lenient and temper justice with mercy. “I have a large family which includes the family of my elder brother who turned blind and cannot fend for his family; they look up to me for sustenance, since the beginning of this case neither the political party nor the Government came to my rescue, thus I urge the court to forgive me”, he stated.
The 2nd defendant also pleaded for leniency, arguing that he is a retiree and had not benefited from the money.
Before sentencing the defendants, Justice Dikko acknowledged their pleas for leniency but insisted that they must be punished to serve as deterrent to others. “I consider your pleas that you have family who will suffer in your absence thus I will be lenient, however your offences must be punished appropriately to deter others in the society from perpetrating same.” He consequently sentenced the 1st and 2nd defendants to 2years imprisonment at the Bauchi Correction Service or a fine of N3,000,000.00 each in lieu of imprisonment on count one; while the 1st defendant bagged a further 2years imprisonment or a fine of N3,000,000.00 in lieu of imprisonment on count two.
The sentences are to run concurrently from March 2, 2023.