Vanguard (Lagos)

Nigeria: Police Pension Thief Re-Arraigned, Remanded in Prison

ABUJA- Convicted pension thief, Mr. John Yakubu Yusufu, was Wednesday, remanded in Prison custody by a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja following his alleged complicity in another N300million fraud.

Trial Justice Adamu Bello ordered that Yusufu who was a former Director of Pension in the Police Affairs Ministry, be detained at Kuje Prison shortly after he pleaded not-guilty to a fresh four-count criminal charge that was preferred against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.

Yusufu had on Monday, confessed before an Abuja High Court that was presided by trial Justice Abubakar Thalba that he connived with seven other civil servants and stole about N23billion from the Police Pension Fund.

Though he was convicted on a three-count charge, however, Justice Thalba had relied on the statutory provision of section 309 of the Penal Code Act and sentenced him to 2 years imprisonment with an option of N750, 000 fine, a sum the accused quickly fished out from his breast pocket and went home.

However, dissatisfied with the outcome of the trial, the EFCC promptly re-arrested him over fresh fraud allegations upon which the accused was docked today.

In the new charge, Yusufu was said to have on or about February 14, 2012, knowingly failed to make full disclosure of his assets and liability in the Declaration of Assets Form he filled and submitted, and equally failed to declare that he owns a company known as AY-A Global Services Limited.

He was said to have used the name of the company and lodged in a fixed deposit account with the Zenith Bank, the sum of N250million, N10million in a fixed deposit account with the First Bank of Nigeria Plc, and another N29 million which he was said to have instructed one Danjuma Mele to lodge in his company account in the name of Jidag Technical Services Ltd with Diamond Bank.

The offence according to the EFCC, is punishable under section 27 (3) of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (Establishment e.t.c) Act Cap E1 2004.

Meanwhile, immediately he was arraigned, Yusufu, through his lead counsel, Mr Maiyaki Theodore Bala, begged the court to allow him to go home, saying he will be available to face his trial.

In his oral application for bail, Bala urged the court to exercise its discretion in favour of his client, an appeal that was vehemently opposed by counsel to the EFCC, Mr Rotimi Jacobs, SAN.

Consequently, trial Justice Bello, directed the defence counsel to go and file a formal bail application, just as he remanded the accused person in Kuje Prison. The case was subsequently adjourned till March 1 for hearing.

Meantime, a civil society organization under the aegis of Anti-Corruption Network, has called for immediate probe of Justice Thalba over the slap on the wrist sentence he handed to the convicted pension thief.

The group which was led by former member of the House of Representatives, Mr Dino Melaye and members of the National Association of Nigerian Students, NANS, stormed the Federal Ministry of Justice in Abuja wearing black cloths with an inscription that read "Justice Abubakar Thalba, SHAME!!!"

Brandishing various placards among which read, "Say No to Judicial Corruption", "Same Justice Thalba did the Kenny Martins Fine", "Jankara Judgment for Pension Thief," further proceeded to the Supreme Court where they equally delivered a copy of the protest letter to the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Mariam Aloma Muhktar.

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