Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Theft of CBN’s N8bn: 2 bankers bag 18 years

A Federal High Court sitting in Ibadan has sentenced a Central Bank of Nigeria staff, Philip Togun, and a woman, Esther Afolabi, ex-staff of WEMA Bank to 18 years imprisonment for participating in stealing of N8 billion at CBN Ibadan branch. They were arraigned for conspiracy, conversion, forgery, re-circulation of mutilated currencies and stealing CBN’s N8 billion by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Togun, a former Treasury Assistant at CBN Ibadan branch and Afolabi, have been standing trial since 2015 alongside others. The other accused persons standing trial with the convicts are Kolawole Babalola, Muniru Olaniran, Festus Adeyemi, Yusuf Fatai, Olukunle Sijuwade, Emanueal Ordia and Patient Okoro. Two others — Ademola Oni and Tope Akintade — had earlier opted for plea bargain and were similarly sentenced upon fulfillment of the terms of the plea bargain. A few other accused persons have also reached advanced stages in their plea bargain with the EFCC. Sentencing Togun and Afolabi, Justice Joyce Abdulmaleek held that she adopted the plea bargain agreement entered into by them with the EFCC as basis for her judgment. “I hereby convict the fourth accused person, Philip Togun, for counts 15, 17 and 19 respectively and convict the fifth accused person, Esther Afolabi, for counts 16, 18 and 19 respectively. “Togun is sentenced to three years in prison for each of the three counts of 12 calendar months a year to commence from Jan. 1, 2016. “The convict shall forfeit to the Federal Government of Nigeria the following assets found in his possession; a building located in Ibadan and the money in the two bank accounts operated by the convict. “Afolabi is also sentenced to three years imprisonment for each of the three charges, 12 calendar months of the year, commencing from Jan. 1, 2016. “The convict shall forfeit the following assets which are the proceeds of the crime to the Federal Government of Nigeria — a five-bedroom duplex, a filling station, the entire money scattered across seven different bank accounts in Nigeria,” the judge ruled. Abdulmaleek, however, said that the sentences would run concurrently. However, the two defense counsel, Mr Olalekan Ojo and Mr Adewole Olajire, expressed dismay with the sentences. They said the judge did not consider the date when the convicts were arrested and also did not give full consideration to the plea bargain between the two convicts and the EFCC. Shortly before the judgment was delivered, the lawyers had pleaded with the court to temper justice with mercy in sentencing the former bankers.


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