The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC has expressed reservation about the ruling of an FCT High Court, Abuja which handed a six year jail term with the option of N750, 000 fine to John Yakubu Yusufu, one of the six persons standing trial in the N32.8billion Police Pension scam. Justice Mohammed Talba convicted and sentenced Yusufu to two years imprisonment with the option of N250, 000 fine on three of an amended 20-count charge. The Commission is of the view that the option of fine runs contrary to the understanding between the prosecution and the defence wherein the convict consented to a custodial sentence with the forfeiture of all assets and money that are proceed of the crime. The agreement was duly communicated to his lordship.
The Commission will study the ruling and respond appropriately.
The six accused persons in the police pension scam were first arraigned on March 29, 2012, on 16-count criminal charges bordering on conspiracy and criminal breach of trust. The other accused person were Esai Dangabar, Atiku Abubakar Kigo, Ahmed Inuwa Wada, Mrs. Veronica Ulonma Onyegbula and Sani Habila Zira. Kigo was the director of the Police Pension Office before he was made permanent secretary.
At today’s sitting, the prosecution sought the leave of the court for the accused persons to take fresh plea to an amended 20-count charge. Another accused person, Christian Madubuike was added to the charge even as the name of Mrs. Uzoma Cyril Attang was removed from the list of accused persons due to her absence in court. She will be arraigned at a later date.
All the accused pleaded not guilty to the amended charge with the exception of Yusufu who pleaded guilty to counts 18, 19 and 20, paving the way for his conviction.
Count 19 of the charge reads: “ that you John Yakubu Yusufu between 27th January, 2009 and 25th November 2009 at Abuja in the Abuja Division of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory converted to your use certain property, to wit the sum of N1,364, 285, 419.95 ( One Billion, Three Hundred and Sixty Four Million, Two Hundred and Eighty Five Thousand, Four Hundred and Nineteen Naira and Ninety five Kobo) belonging to Police Pension Office domiciled in its account with First Bank of Nigeria Plc and you thereby committed an offence punishable under section 309 of the Penal Code Act, Cap. 532, Laws of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, Nigeria, 2007”
Before the ruling, defence counsel, Theodore Bala Maiyaki pleaded with the court for leniency. “My Lord, his conduct has shown respect for this honourable court, he has saved the time of my Lord and being a first offender, with no previous record of conviction, I urge the court to temper justice with mercy and sentence him with least possible terms.”
He said the convict has a serious heart condition and is the bread winner of not only his immediate family but of numerous others.
However, prosecution counsel Rotimi Jacobs reminded the court that Section 309 of the Criminal Procedure Code prescribes a maximum of 2 years imprisonment, a fine or both for the offence which the convict had pleaded guilty to.
He said “ the court needs to send out the message that the era of stealing public funds with impunity is gone. Having regards to the amount and properties involved, the duty imposed on the convict, it would not be good to convict him without regards to assuaging the feelings of Nigerians especially the pensioners.”
Apart from the jail term, the former assistant director of Police Pension office is to forfeit 32 properties. Among the properties are two units of a 3 bedroom semi detached bungalow at R2, A and B, sunny homes, Dakwo District, Abuja; two units of 3 bedroom semi bungalow- detached at M24, A and B, sunny homes Dakwo homes, Dakwo District Abuja; four units of a 3bedroom semi- detached bungalow, managed by Daniel at sunny homes, Dakwo District, Abuja; eight units of an Estates of two bedroom flats, at Gombe, GRA; one unit Semi-detached Duplex at house 21, 4th Avenue, Gwarinpa, Abuja; four units of a 2 bedroom semi – detached duplex at Bricks city, Kubwa road, Abuja and one unit of Semi- Detached Duplex, at 14B Democracy crescent, Gaduwa, Abuja.
He also forfeits N325, 187, 867.18 ( Three Hundred and Twenty Five Million, One Hundred and Seven Thousand, Eight Hundred and Sixty Seven Thousand, Eighteen Kobo) cash.
The substantive case has been adjourned to February 25, 2013.