A Kaduna Federal High Court, presided over by Justice P. H. Mallong, has sentenced its former registrar, Joseph Etefia Udoh, to four-year imprisonment for N80 million fraud.
The convict and his wife, Grace, were last December arraigned by the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) on a 12-count charge bordering on misappropriation of the huge sum of money said to have been deposited by a litigant.
The offender reportedly issued cheques in the name of his wife, also a staff of the Abuja branch of the court, to acquire choice properties in some major cities of Nigeria.
Based on an extant plea bargain pact, the charges were amended to four, and those against his spouse dropped. When the offences were read yesterday, Udoh pleaded guilty.
Consequently, the prosecuting counsel, Shehu Yahaya prayed the court to jail the defendant in tune with terms of the agreement as provided for in Section 270(10) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA), 2015.
Udoh’s lawyer, Gbenga Ogunniran, raised no objection, stating that his client did not only embarrass himself, but also his family. He pleaded with the court to temper justice with mercy, “especially looking at the fact that the convict is a family man, funding his children’s school and taking care of his aged mother.”
Delivering judgment, the presiding judge sentenced Udoh to 12 -month imprisonment on each count, which runs concurrently from the date of his arraignment on December 12, 2019.
The court also ordered sale of the forfeited assets listed in the schedule of the plea bargain agreement and remittance of the proceeds to victims of the crime.
Besides, Justice Mallong placed a lien on the convict’s retirement benefits and/or pension savings for any outstanding balance after the sale of the seized properties.
And in the event of any outstanding, same is to be paid by instalment, as agreed by the complainant and the convict in deference to Section 429 of the ACJA, 2015.