A former Director of Finance of the Niger Delta Affairs Ministry, Mr Ayinla Abibu, has been sentenced to one-year imprisonment for embezzling N60 million belonging to the government.
Hon. Justice Olukayode Adeniyi of the Federal Capital Territory High Court, who presided over the case, also ordered the forfeiture of two plots of land in Kubwa and Bwari in Abuja.
Abibu was arraigned by the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission for embezzling the money through the use of a front company, Zeocat Nigeria Limited, in March 2014.
The ICPC held that Abibu illegally obtained the sum 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 with the Central Bank of Nigeria.
According to the ICPC, he 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 area of the Federal Capital Territory in Abuja.
Before his sentencing, the defence lawyer, Abiola Akinwale, pleaded with the court to be lenient with the suspect by granting him a lighter sentence as he 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.
ICPC Counsel, Mr George Lawal, while conceding the powers of sentence to the court, 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.”