Saturday, May 21, 2022

Court jails ex-High Court Registrar over N80m fraud 

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Rayyan Alhassan
Rayyan Alhassan is a graduate of Journalism and Mass Communication at Sikkim Manipal University, Ghana. He is the acting Managing Editor at the Daily Nigerian newspaper, a position he has held for the past 3 years. He can be reached via [email protected], or, or @Rayyan88 on Twitter.
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A Federal High Court, sitting in Kaduna State, has sentenced a former Registrar of the Court, Joseph Etefia-Udoh, to four years imprisonment for laundering the sum of N80 million.

Mr. Udoh and his wife Grace Udoh were in December 2019 arraigned by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, ICPC, before Hon. Justice P. H. Mallong on twelve-count charge for alleged misappropriation of N80M   that had been deposited in the court by a litigant.

The convict reportedly issued cheques in the name of his wife, also a staff of the Federal High Court of Justice, Abuja, and used the money to acquire properties in some major cities across Nigeria.

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Based on a plea bargain agreement entered with the convict, the charges labelled against him were amended to four counts and those against his wife dropped.

When Charges were read before the convict, he pleaded guilty to all of them.

The prosecution counsel, Shehu Yahaya, urged the court to convict and sentence the defendant according to the terms of the plea bargain agreement before the court as provided in section 270(10) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, ACJA, 2015.

Counsel to the defendant, Gbenga Ogunniran, concurred with the submission of the prosecution counsel, stating that the convict did not only embarrass himself, but also embarrassed his family.

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He, however, 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 his judgement, the presiding Judge, Justice P. H. Mallong, convicted Mr Udoh to 12 months imprisonment on each count, but to run concurrently from the date of his arraignment, which was from December 12, 2019.

The court also ruled that all properties seized by the ICPC in the course of investigation, as listed in the schedule of the plea bargain agreement be forfeited to the Commission, and be sold with the proceeds given to the victims of the crime.

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In addition, the judge ruled that a lien be placed on the convict’s retirement benefits and/or pension savings for any balance still outstanding against the defendant after the sale of the forfeited properties.

He added that, in the event of any outstanding sum, and balance payment by the convict remain unpaid, same is to be paid in instalments as agreed by the complainant and the convict in accordance with section 429 of the ACJA, 2015.

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