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Ex-Director in N32.8 billion pension fraud gets option to pay N750,000 ($5,000) fine or 2yrs in prison - NBA says "blame weak laws on corruption, not the judge"
| February 04, 2013
Reacting to the outcry over the sentencing of John Yakubu Yusufu, a former Director in the Police Pension Office, to two years in prison or an option to pay a N750,000 fine ($5,000) for his involvement in the police pension fraud scandal, the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has asked critics to blame the blame weak laws on corruption in Nigeria, for the light sentence, and not the judge. John Yakubu Yusufu pleaded guilty to three offences last week including his involvement in defrauding the office and pensioners of N27.2bn ($175m). Yusufu admitted to stealing N2bn ($13m) of the money and was given, what most critics consider to be a light sentence, two years in prison for each offence, with the terms running concurrently. However, most people were suprised when the judge tacked on the option to pay a N750,000 fine and avoid the prison sentence. His lawyer immediately offered to pay the fine. He is also expected to forfeit 32 houses in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and Gombe state, and N325m which the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) said were proceeds from the fraud. Delivering the sentence, Justice Abubakar Talba said he had taken into account the fact that Yusufu was a first time offender, and that he had also pleaded guilty to his offences and saved the time of the court. The judge also pointed out that the court has a duty to the country, which continues to suffer from corruption and then stated that section 309 of the Penal Code, under which the accused persons were charged, stipulates a two-year prison term with an option of fine or both. However, the outcry over to the option given to Yusufu to pay a N750,000 fine ($5,000) after confessing to stealing N2bn ($13m) has been loud across the country, with some protesters marching to the Ministry of Justice to express their anger at the light sentence. The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) waded into the controversy when the President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Okey Wali (SAN), spoke to reporters at the end of a two-day peace and security summit in Abuja, and said that the weak laws on corruption in the country should be blamed for the light sentence that Yusufu received. The NBA President said, "On the conviction of Yusuf, it is obvious that the law is inadequate and so the sentence is inadequate, that is why we are calling for these amendments of the law. Our position on the conviction of Yusuf is that we do not speak off the cuff but from what we gathered the law on which he was charged says two years with an option of fine, so we would be calling for an amendment of that law, cause he is getting away with so much with little punishment." He said the criminal penal code in use in Nigeria was a 1916 ordinance stating that it should not still be in the present day and age and added that there ithe government is not demonstrating a strong will to fight corruption. The NBA called for the amendment of the law establishing the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to incorporate the full spirit of the provisions of the first EFCC bill drafted by the Justice Kayode Esho committee which proposed that anybody exhibiting wealth beyond his visible means of income would have to account for his source of income.

(3) Comment


Comments

"The views and opinions expressed in these comment(s) or article(s) do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of NGEX, its partners or its affiliates."
Holyboy    Osun state, Nigeria    February 15, 2013
We cnnt blame d Mr President bcos A TREE CAN NEVA MAKE A FOREST. Someboy emblezzed billions of naira,he was told 2 pay thousand as a fine,is dat Gud
Ray    Lagos, Nigeria    February 06, 2013
"Will the President and the National Assembly make amendments to the law to give it the teeth that it does not currently have?"

The answer to the question above is no because it would be an error on their part to give the law the teeth that it might one day use to bite them seeing that they are all guilty of stealing from the national treasury and the possibility of being prosecuted once they are out of office cannot be ruled out
OBJ    HOUSTON, TEXAS, USA    February 04, 2013
"Corruption is not the problem in Nigeria, it is the peoples attitude"- President Jonathan. When the leaders of the nation are incapable of understanding what the needs of the nation are, weak laws to encourage criminal conducts are passed. Yes, sentencing was per guidelines but the judge should not have offered the option to pay fine. He should have sentenced him to prison plus the fine to send a message that we are not tolerating stealing any longer. What kind of message does this sentence send?
Will the president and the national assembly make amendments to the law to give it the teeth that it does not currently have? Waite a minute; per our president, corruption is not the problem we just have to change our attitude and start celebrating criminology. What a country.
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