30 January 2013

Nigeria: Pension Scam Trial - Akanbi Says Judge Encouraging Corruption

Ilorin — As outcries trail Monday's light sentence for Mr. John Yusuf, an accused person in the N27.2bn pension scam, by Justice Abubakar Talba of a Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court, former Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) Justice Mustapha Akanbi yesterday said the judge was by his action encouraging corruption.

Yusuf, a Director of the Police Pension Office, was handed down only a two-year sentence with a N750, 000 fine option after admitting stealing N2bn of the said money.

Speaking with Daily Trust yesterday in Ilorin, Justice Akanbi who is a former President of the Court of Appeal said if the judge truly delivered the verdict, he would be sending a wrong signal to those fighting corruption.

According to him, if Nigeria cannot impose execution for corrupt people as obtained in China and other European countries, more stringent penalty should be enforced to serve as deterrent to other looters of the nation's treasury.

"The judge is encouraging people to commit more crimes. Instead of awarding a punishment which would serve as deterrent to other criminals, he is really encouraging criminals to continue to loot the nation's treasury and to continue their criminal activities.

"The punishment must be commensurate with the level of the crime committed by the accused. If he admitted stealing N2bn and you now asked him to pay a paltry sum of N750, 000, I think that is not good enough. Judge has discretion but his discretion should have been exercised more judiciously.

"The entire society must frown at it and the character of the judge must be called to question if the story is true. The judgement is sending a wrong signal to those who are committed to fighting corruption. In fact, I should hate to think that the judge can escape the inference that some dirty water has passed under the bridge", he said.

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