FORMER Chairman of the Gombe State Board of Internal Revenue, Atiku Mu’azu, has pleaded guilty to a two-count charge of conspiracy and theft of state funds.
The Gombe Zonal office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) arraigned Mu’azu and three other officials of the state board of internal revenue before Justice Beatrice Ilya of the Gombe State High Court on Thursday.
The three others are Mohammed Adi, Chief Store Officer; Ibrahim Abubakar, Chief Accountant; and Abubakar Usman, a director. They were alleged to have committed the crime between January and June 2015.
According to Tony Orilade, EFCC’s spokesman, the convicts “conspired and stole the sum of N25,060,000 (Twenty Five Million and Sixty Thousand Naira) only, belonging to Gombe State Government”.
The offence was contrary to and punishable under Section 286 and 287 of the Penal Code Law, Laws of Northern Nigeria.
All the accused persons pleaded guilty to the charges.
The defence counsel, L.A. Haruna, pleaded with the trial judge to temper justice with mercy, saying that they were first-time offenders and had not wasted the court’s time but had pleaded guilty on the day of their arraignment.
Haruna also informed the court that his clients had made some restitution and are willing to fully restitute the whole amount.
In her judgement, Justice Ilya pronounced them guilty and ordered them to pay fine of N100,000 each following the pleading by the defence counsel.
The convicts were also ordered to pay back the remaining amount to the Gombe State Government within six months.
In a related development, the EFCC says it has arrested one Abdulgafar Ayinla, a member-elect of the Kwara State House of Assembly over an alleged N26 million property fraud.
Orilade said the arrest followed a petition submitted to the EFCC by an America-based Nigerian citizen who alleged that she contacted Ayinla to help her in purchasing a property.
“The Lawmaker-elect sold to me another two plots of land with four bedroom bungalow at window level at Agric area of Ilorin. I paid N8,240, 000 (Eight Million Naira Two hundred and Forty Thousand Naira) commission of which Ayinla informed me that the seller had received his money but he never paid the money to the seller up till today, and never refunded the money to me,” Orilade quoted the petitioner as saying.
“The suspect disclosed that he diverted the money to his personal use and promised to pay back when he receives his wardrobe allowance from the Kwara State House of Assembly. He would soon be charged to court.”