Wednesday, 10 May 2017

4 JAILED FOR ATTEMPTING TO DEFRAUD FORMER BENUE GOVERNOR


Mark Gbaa, Ezekiel Azi, Bulus Ashom and Nuhu Atangs, were on Wednesday jailed one year each, for attempting to defraud the former Benue governor, Gabriel Suswam.



The four of them were arraigned in 2013, faced a six-count charge of conspiracy, attempt to defraud, impersonation, forgery and mischief.

They posed as officers of the EFCC and intended to defraud the governor to the tune of $3 million.

The convicts had contacted Suswam’s orderly claiming to be investigating local government accounts in Benue, asking that the orderly inform Suswam of a certain petition levelled against the Commissioner for Finance and the Adviser on Local Government Affairs.

Having spoken with one of the accused, who claimed he could stop the petition, the former governor called the EFCC headquarters to confirm the petition, but was told there was nothing like that.

He was then advised to play along with them and requested a meeting at the Benue government house.

On February 21, 2013, two of the accused persons visited the government house, asking the governor to pay $3 million. State Security Service officers, promptly arrested them.

The prosecution said that the offences contravened Section 8(a) of the Advanced Fee Fraud and other Related Offences Act, 2006.

The accused were said to have confessed to the crime during investigation, but pleaded not guilty before the court, saying that they were forced to make confessional statements.

The defense counsel, Izang Aware, objected to the admissibility of their statements in evidence, arguing that the accused were forced to make the statements without being warned of the consequences.

The presiding judge, however, agreed with the prosecution, who urged the court to admit the statements in evidence, submitting that warning an accused before he made any statement was not necessary.

The judge then found the four accused persons guilty and sentenced to one year imprisonment without option of fine.

by Omoleye Omoruyi

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