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Igbinedion Convicted, Fined N3.5m

Posted by Nnamdi Mbawike, Enugu and Lilian Agih, Abuja on 2008/12/19 | Views: 4845 |

Igbinedion Convicted, Fined N3.5m

The Federal High Court sitting in Enugu on Thursday convicted former Edo State governor, Chief Lucky Igbinedion, on a one-count charge of corruption.

* EFCC rejects verdict

The Federal High Court sitting in Enugu on Thursday convicted former Edo State governor, Chief Lucky Igbinedion, on a one-count charge of corruption.

But contrary to the expectation of many, the former governor walked away with a slap on the wrist, as the trial judge, Justice Abdullahi Kafarati, only fined him N3.5million

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission had declared Chief Igbinedion wanted in January this year and later arraigned him on a 191- count charge bordering on corruption, money laundering and embezzlement of public fund.

But the anti-graft agency, for reasons best known to it, dropped the charges and filed an amended 24-count charge against the first and second accused, Igbinedion and Kiva Corporation on Wednesday . Igbinedion was, however, arraigned on one-count charge.

The trial judge convicted KIVA Corporation, the second accused, on the 23 charges levelled against it and ordered it to pay N500 million fine and forfeit its landed properties annexed to the charge sheet.

The properties to be forfeited by the second accused include a parcel of land at Asokoro, Abuja , a detached building on two plots comprising four bedrooms and two boys' quarters at GRA, Benin City , and a storey building in Benin .

Council to the EFCC, Rotimi Jacobs, had earlier during the proceedings informed the court that the EFCC had withdrawn the charges against the four other accused and filed an amended 24 -count charge against the first two accused and prayed that it should be read.

Jacobs stated that the accused was required under the law to declare his assets and interests in the declaration of assets form which he failed to do when he neglected to disclose his account in GTB containing N3, 579, 524.16.

Tendering a payment voucher from Edo State Government House showing how monies were withdrawn and lodged into the account of the company as well as the statement of the first accused person in GTB, the EFCC urged the court to consider the ingredients under Count 2 and 3 where the payment totalling N30 million paid to the second accused on January 10, 2007 was listed and another sum of N70 million paid to the same company on May 17, 2007 by one Pat Aigbedo, an Edo State government official.

Shortly after the EFCC,s prayers, Igbinedion entered into the dock and pleaded guilty to the count-one amended charge against him where he was accused of neglecting to declare his interest in a GTB bank account in which he had the sum of approximately N3.5million.

His counsel to the first accused Oyeyipo, in plea for a mercy, submitted that the amount in the account as stated by the prosecution was N3, 579, 524.16. He told the court that the Igbinedion was a first offender.

In his ruling, the trial judge convicted Chief Lucky Igbinedion and ordered him to pay N3.5 million fine.

Reacting to the judgment, Oyeyipo stated that the experience of his client in the past 11 months was humbling and traumatic.

"It is instructive to note that the summary of all the charges, either in their original or amended form, bordered on the use of security votes or utilisation of duty allowance," he said.

Meanwhile the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission{EFCC} said yesterday that the verdict was unaccpteable to it.

"The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, wishes to state that it is disappointed by the verdict of the Federal High Court, Enugu which on Thursday converted the sentence of former Edo State governor, Chief Lucky Igbinedion to a fine", the commission stated

A statement by Femi Babafemi, Head of Media and Publicity reads:

"The former governor had sought a plea bargain in the course of his prosecution by the EFCC. The outcome of the exercise at the court in Enugu however, fell short of the expectation of the Commission.

"It is believed that the essence of a plea bargain is not only for suspects to forfeit the proceeds of crime but that such should go with a sentence which will serve as a deterrent.

"In view of this development, the Chairman of the EFCC, Mrs. Farida Waziri, has instructed the Commission's counsel to file an appeal against the verdict immediately.

"The Commission will rather go the long way of prosecution than to settle for a plea bargain verdict that has no bite, or will not serve any deterrent purpose".

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Comments (6)

Joel Efiong(Calabar, Nigeria)says...

This is a great piece. The examination bodies should hire you as ICT consultant.

Sunday Mbe(Kaduna, Kaduna, Nigeria)says...


Sunday Mbe(Kaduna, Kaduna, Nigeria)says...

The name ULIMASI is from the UTUGWANG tribe in OBUDU local government area of CROSS RIVER STATE in Nigeria.

Okfold(Sobe, Edo, Nigeria)says...

I want the meaning of female owan name Ekeke (Edo state)

Toluwalase Samuel Olufemi(Ijebu, Ogun, Nigeria)says...

Authority belongs to God, once He decrees it is final and binding