By Soni Daniel – Abuja
A Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court, has sentenced a former Director Finance of the Niger Delta Ministry, Mr. Ayinla Abibu, to one-year imprisonment as well as the forfeiture of two plots of land in Kubwa and Bwari of Abuja.
The convict was charged by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) for embezzling the sum of N60 million from the Federal Government through the use of a front company, Zeocat Nigeria Limited, in March, 2014.
Abibu was charged by the Commission before Hon Justice Olukayode Adeniyi for defrauding the Federal Government in collusion with a former Principal Accountant in the Ministry, Mr. Kabiru Poloma, by fraudulently withdrawing money from the Constituency Project account of the Ministry domiciled in the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
The 60-year-old convict was said to have used the proceeds of the fraud to acquire a house in Ogbomosho, Oyo state and plots of land in Kubwa and Bwari of the Federal Capital Territory Abuja.
Before his sentencing, the defence lawyer, Abiola Akinwale, had pleaded with the Court to be lenient with the convict by granting him a lighter sentence as the convict falls amongst the age vulnerable to COVID-19.
The defence lawyer further told the Court that a longer sentence would quicken the death of the convict’s aged parents who were 99 and 92 years old respectively.
However, the ICPC Counsel, Mr. George Lawal, while conceding the powers of sentence to the Court, stated that the grievous nature of the crime committed by the convict demanded that he should be punished accordingly. Lawal argued that a lesser sentence might fail to serve as a deterrent to would-be offenders.
He said, “In the circumstances, it is only fair that restitution be made in equal value of what was taken. This will send a clear message that crime does not pay”.