By VICTOR AHIUMA-YOUNG
NIGERIA Labour Congress, NLC, yesterday, expressed outrage over the two years jail term imposed on Mr. Yakubu Yusufu, for stealing N23billion out of over N40billion found to have been stolen from the coffers of the Nigeria Police Pension Fund between January 2008 and June 2011.
NLC argued that the import of such a ridiculous light sentence showed clearly that Nigerian judiciary was being compromised and obviously encouraging corruption in a country that had lost most of her earnings to a few individuals who used public offices to corruptly enrich themselves.
In a statement by its Acting President, Kiri Mohammed, Congress urged the National Assembly to review the nation’s judicial system to make it more patriotic and function in the interest of democracy which would be threatened should this type of ridiculous judgment be allowed.
The statement entitled “Pension Thief Must be Retried”, NLC said: “We are startled at the judgment by an Abuja High court yesterday which convicted a man who already admitted stealing N23billion out of over N40billion found to have been stolen from the coffers of the Nigeria Police Pension Fund between January 2008 and June 2011 to just two years in prison with an option of fine in the sum of N750,000.
“That Justice Abubakar Talba could only convict such a high profile thief who has enriched himself with money reserved for people who have served this country honestly and have retired into abject poverty and penury to a scandalous two years imprisonment with an option of fine in the ridiculous sum of N750, 000, shows clearly that the Nigerian judiciary is being compromised.
“They are obviously encouraging corruption in a country that has lost most of her earnings to a few individuals who have used their public offices to corruptly enrich themselves.”
“It becomes more alarming that the pension thief’s counsel had urged the court to be lenient on his client as he has ailing aged parents and responsibility to pay the school fees of his children. These reasons are as irresponsible, callous just as the offence he committed in the first place. The money he stole has left thousands of families in hunger, perpetual pains and in some cases, even death.
This thief didn’t deserve any leniency. This judgment is not in the public interest and cannot be acceptable to Nigerians who are continuously worried about their future in retirement should the judiciary continue to encourage those caught with public funds with convictions that are clearly not punitive enough for the convict to be remorseful, the judiciary will be encouraging the Nigerian people to opt for jungle justice and treat these high profile criminals the same way pick pockets are treated.”
“This particular judgment is not only unpatriotic but clearly against national interest as our people are united against corruption which has brought our collective image to global ridicule and our national economy to near collapse. We urge the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to immediately appeal against this judgment or call for a retrial, while we call on the National Judicial Council to investigate both the judge and the entire case.
Given our commitment to the anti corruption crusade, which we believe members of the National Assembly must also be committed to, we urge the National Assembly to review our judicial system to make it more patriotic and function in the interest of democracy which will be threatened should this type of ridiculous judgment be allowed.”
“This judgment lacks moral values and has not demonstrated that laws and judicial institutions are capable of protecting the interest of ordinary people as well as safeguard national interests. And this portends danger for democracy anywhere in the world. This judgment, if allowed to stay will be a direct encouragement to corruption and corrupt officials who will not mind deepening their stealing zeal knowing that the punishment they will face would be soft and harmless.”