In a curious ruling reminiscent of the suspended Justice IbrahimTabla saga, a judge sitting at the Kano State High Court has has sentenced a former bank manager who stole N65 million to a six month sentence or an option of a N2 million maximum fine.
The convict, Usman Salifu, who was arraigned on a four – count charge of pilfering, allegedly stole the N65 million fron the fixed deposit account of a customer of Oceanic Bank, now Ecobank, Yusuf Sale Dunari.
Upon arraignment, Salifu pleaded not guilty but he later changed his plea and admitted his guilt to all the four counts of the charge brought against him
In his ruling, Justice Dije Abdu Aboki convicted and sentenced Salifu, who was the branch manager of the bank to six months imprisonment with option of N2 million fine on the first count; six months with option of N500, 000 fine on counts 2 and 3 and four months imprisonment with option of N500, 000 fine on count 4.
The judge ruled that all sentences are to run concurrently, meaning that the most that the convict would suffer is six months in prison. And if he can pay a fine of N2 million, then he can walk home free after stealing a depositor’s N65 million.
During the trial defence counsel pleaded with the court to tamper justice with mercy, saying that the convict is a first offender with aged parents and many dependants.
But the prosecuting counsel, M.M Gambo, urged the court to make orders regarding restitution in sentencing the convict.
The case is reminiscent of an earlier one in which Justice AbubakarMahmud Talba granted a former director in the Police Pension Office, John Yusuf, a two year jail term or an option of payingN750,000 fine after pleading guilty to stealing N1.3 billion.
Talba’s curious judgement elicited enormous controversy and a petition to the National Judicial Council, NJC, which eventually suspended the judge from office for 12 months.
After investigating the matter, the NJC ruled that the judge did not exercise his discretion judicially and judiciously with regard to the sentences he passed on Yusuf.