By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA—Convicted pension thief, Mr. John Yakubu Yusufu, was yesterday, remanded in Prison custody by a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, following his alleged complicity in another N300 million fraud.
Trial Justice Adamu Bello ordered that Yusufu, 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 preferred against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
Yusufu had on Monday, confessed before an Abuja High Court presided over by Justice Abubakar Thalba that he connived with seven other civil servants to steal about N23 billion from Police Pension Fund.
Though he convicted the fraudster on a three-count charge, Justice Thalba, had relied on the statutory provision of section 309 of the Penal Code and sentenced him to two years imprisonment with an option of N750, 000 fine, a sum the accused quickly brought out from his breast pocket, paid 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 yesterday.
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 to lodge in a fixed deposit account with the Zenith Bank, the sum of N250 million, N10 million 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.
Yusufu begs for bail
Meanwhile, immediately he was arraigned yesterday, Yusufu, through his lead counsel, Mr Maiyaki Theodore Bala, begged the court to allow him to go home, saying he would 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.
The fresh charge
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.
Two of the fresh charge against him reads: “That you John Yakubu Yusufu on or about February 14, 2012 at Abuja, in the Abuja Judicial Division knowingly failed to make full disclosure of your assets and liability in the Declaration of Assets Form filled by you, by not declaring your interest in the N250 million you lodged in a fixed deposit account with the Zenith Bank in the name of SY-A Global Services Limited, a company in which you are the sole signatory to its account and you thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 27(3) of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (Establishment, etc.) Act, CAP E1 2004.
“That you John Yakubu Yusufu on or about February 14, 2012 at Abuja, in the Abuja Judicial Division knowingly failed to make full disclosure of your assets and liability in the Declaration of
Assets Form filled by you, by not declaring your interest in the sum of N10 million you lodged in a fixed deposit account with the First Bank of Nigeria Plc in the name of SY-A Global Services Limited, a company in which you are the sole signatory to its account and you thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 27(3) of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (Establishment, etc.) Act, CAP E1 2004.”
The Federal Government had already confiscated 32 choice properties that were traced to the accused person, as well as the sum of N325 million that was found in one of his accounts.
Yusufu’s property seized by FG
Among the property included two units of 3 bedroom semi detached bungalow at R2, A and B, Sunnyvale homes, Dakwo District, Abuja; two units of 3 bedroom semi-detached bungalow at M24, A and B, Sunnyvale homes, Dakwo District Abuja; four units of a 3bedroom semi-detached bungalow, managed by Daniel at Sunnyvale homes, Dakwo District, Abuja; eight units of an estate of two bedroom flats, at Gombe, GRA.
Others were: One unit Semi-detached Duplex at house 21, 4th Avenue, Gwarinpa, Abuja; four units of a 2 bedroom semi-detached duplex at Bricks city, Kubwa Road, Abuja and one unit of semi-detached Duplex, at 14B Democracy Crescent, Gaduwa, Abuja.
Yusufu was hitherto facing trial alongside a Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Mr. Atiku Abubakar Kigo and six others, Esai Dangabar, Ahmed Inuwa Wada, Mrs. Veronica Ulonma Onyegbula, Sani Habila Zira and Christian Madubuike.
EFCC had alleged that the accused persons conspired and sequentially withdrew monies from Police Pension funds in an account domiciled at First Bank of Nigeria and shared it among themselves, adding that the 3rd accused person, Inuwa Wada, collected N18 million from Unity Bank Plc, as his reward for retaining the Police Pension Account with the bank.
The commission maintained that the fraud was committed between January 2009 and June 2011. Justice Thalba had slated February 25 to continue hearing on the substantive charge against the other accused persons.
Group urges FG to probe Justice Thalba
Meantime, a civil society organization under the aegis of Anti-Corruption Network, yesterday, 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 a 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 yesterday, 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.