A High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, has sentenced a former Director of Finance in the Niger Delta Ministry, Mr Ayinla Abibu, to a one-year prison term. The court has also ordered the forfeiture of two plots of land located in Kubwa and Bwari areas of the city.
Abibu was charged by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) for embezzling the sum of N60 Million from the Federal Government through the use of a front company, Zeocat Nigeria Limited, in March 2014.
According to a statement by the spokesperson of the Commission, Mrs Azuka Ogugua, the convict was charged by the Commission before Justice Olukayode Adeniyi for defrauding the Federal Government in collusion with a former Principal Accountant in the Ministry, Mr Kabiru Poloma, by fraudulently withdrawing money from the Constituency Project account of the Ministry domiciled in the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
The 60-year-old convict was said to have used the proceeds of the fraud to acquire a house in Ogbomosho, Oyo State, and plots of land in Kubwa and Bwari of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
Before his sentencing, the defence lawyer, Abiola Akinwale, pleaded with the court to be lenient with the convict by granting him a lighter sentence as the convict falls amongst the age vulnerable to COVID-19. The defence lawyer further told the court that a longer sentence would quicken the death of the convict’s aged parents who were 99 and 92 years old, respectively.
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The ICPC Counsel, Mr George Lawal, while conceding the powers of the sentence to the court, stated that the grievous nature of the crime committed by the convict demanded that he should be punished accordingly. Lawal argued that a lesser sentence might fail to serve as a deterrent to would-be offenders.
He said: ‘In the circumstances, it is only fair that restitution be made in equal value of what was taken. This will send a clear message that crime does not pay.’
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