29 January 2013

Nigeria: Pension Scam - Accountant Who Stole N1.4b Billion Freed On N750, 000 Fine

Photo: Leadership
Court gavel.

One of the eight civil servants charged with alleged misappropriation of N33 billion from the Police Pension Office was yesterday set free by an Abuja High Court under a plea bargain deal with the EFCC.

John Yakubu Yusuf, the Chief Accountant of the Police Pension Office, was yesterday sentenced to two years imprisonment on three counts with option of N250, 000 fines on each.

He is also to forfeit to the state the sum of N325 million and thirteen choice properties in Abuja and Gombe, Gombe State. He paid the total of N750,000 in fines immediately and was allowed to go home.

Yusuf pleaded guilty to the charges after an amended 20 counts charge, filed to accommodate two additional suspects Mrs Uzoma Cyril Attang and Christian Madubuike, was read to them by the EFCC.

Those on trial who pleaded not guilty are Atiku Abubakar Kigo, the Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Head of Service; Esai Dangabar, a retired director at the Aviation Ministry; and Ahmed Wada, a former deputy director of the Police Pension Office and now director in the Federal Ministry of Sports.Others are: accountants Sani Habila Zira, Veronica Ulonma Onyegbula.

Yusuf, who is an accountant and the former assistant director in the Police Pension office, was accused in count 18 of the charge of misappropriating the sum of N20.154 billion alongside Kigo, Dangabar, Wada, Zira and Onyegbula.

In count 19 and 20, the EFCC accused him of pilfering the sum of N1.3 billion and N1.7 billion respectively.

Besides the formal termination of his appointment after being suspended since the trial commenced in March, 2012, Yusuf is also to forfeit to the state the sum of N325 million cash and thirty two choice properties scattered in Abuja and Gombe, Gombe State respectively.

Earlier, counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Rotimi Jacobs (SAN) objected to the option of fine urging the court to give custodial sentence against the convict.

Reacting to the ruling, Yusuf's counsel Maiyaki Theodore Bala told newsmen that his client will pay the fine of N750, 000 immediately because it is an order of the court.

Meanwhile, the court has adjourned to February 26 for continuation of hearing in the other accused persons charged on 20 counts along with Yusuf over alleged N33 billion Police pension fraud.

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