By Bode Olushegun
A man has been sentenced to a cumulative 125 years in prison by a Borno State High Court sitting in Maiduguri for fraudulently obtaining food items worth N12.9 million.
The accused, Allen Abel, was dragged through the court by the Economic and Financial crimes Commission for fraudulently obtaining food items valued at N12.9 million on the pretext of executing a fake contract for Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development (FMHDSD)’s School Feeding scheme under the Social Intervention Programme (SIP) of the Federal Government.
Abel was arraigned before Justice Aisha Kumaliya on Thursday, July 2, 2020 alongside Suleiman Adamu, Usman Adamu and Kingsley Madubuagu by the Maiduguri zonal office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on 20-count charge that bordered on forgery, possession of false documents, impersonation and obtaining by false pretence.
The count three of the charge read: “That you, Allen Abel, Suleiman Adamu and Usman Adamu sometimes between February and March, 2020 at Maiduguri, Borno State, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court with intent to defraud, obtained 1313 (One Thousand Three Hundred and Thirteen) cartons of spaghetti and 480 (Four Hundred Eighty) bags of rice both worth N12, 110,000.00 (Twelve Million One Hundred Ten Thousand Naira) only from one Lelle Hyelwa Sini of Lelle Foresight Construction Co. Ltd. under the false pretence of executing a contract of supply of food items, purportedly awarded by the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs Disaster Management and Social Development (Federal Government School Feeding Programme, under the Social Intervention Programme, SIP), which you knew to be false and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 1 (1) (a) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other fraud Related Offences Act, 2006 and Punishable under Section 1(3) of the same Act.”
Abel pleaded guilty to the twenty-count charges upon arraignment and Justice Kumaliya convicted him accordingly, and adjourned the case to September 30 for sentencing.
At the resumption of hearing on Wednesday, Justice Kumaliya sentenced Abel to 7 years imprisonment each on counts 1 to 6, and 9 without an option of fine; 5 years imprisonment each on counts 7, 8 and 11-20 respectively without an option of fine. All sentences are to run concurrently.
The judge, in addition, asked the convict to restitute Lele Foresight Construction Company the total sum of N12.1 million and HIE Global Investment Limited the sum of N769,800.
In another development, Justice Umaru Fadawu of the Borno State High court, Maiduguri has sentenced one Babagana Abatcha to two years imprisonment with an option of N500,000 fine.
The convict was arraigned by EFCC’s Maiduguri Zonal office on one-count charge of criminal breach of trust to the tune of N9 million.
The charge against him read: “That you, Babagana Abatcha sometime between 2017 and 2018 at Maiduguri, Borno State within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, being entrusted with care over certain properties to wit: N9,000,000.00 (Nine Million Naira) only, by one Umar Gujja Ali being payment for the execution of a purported contract awarded to you by a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) in Maiduguri, did dishonesty misappropriate the entire sum and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 311of the Penal Code Laws of Borno State Cap.102 Vol.3 of 1994 and punishable under Section 312 of the same Law.”
Upon his arraignment, the convict pleaded not guilty to the one-count charge, which prompted the prosecution to present witnesses and tendered several exhibits in proving its case.
Delivering judgment on Wednesday, September 30, 2020, Justice Fadawu sentenced the defendant to two years imprisonment with an option of N500, 000 fine.
The court further odered the convict to pay N7.9 million in restitution to the nominal complainant or, in default, serve six years imprisonment, with the years running consecutively.