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ICPC: Ex-Commissioner for Agric bags 19 years jail term

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ZACCHAEUS Atte, a former Commissioner for Agriculture in Kogi State on Friday was sentenced to nineteen years jail term for embezzling public funds while in office.

The Independent Corrupt Practices and other related Crime (ICPC) disclosed this in a statement via its Twitter page.

Justice J.J Majebi of the Kogi High Court sitting in Okene, Kogi State, found Atte guilty on 7 out of the 11 counts of the charge preferred against him by ICPC.

The statement revealed that Atte was sentenced to 5 years imprisonment each on counts 1 and 3 without an option of fine, for collecting the sum of N11.937m and N8.87m.

It noted that the said funds were meant for the “raising and distribution of Oil Palm Sprouted Nuts Seedlings” to cocoa farmers in the state but neither raised nor distributed the same.

“This is an offence contrary to and punishable under Section 19 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act 2000 (ICPC Act),” the commission noted.

Also, the former commissioner was sentenced on count 2 to five years imprisonment without an option of fine, for embezzling the sum of N350k meant to defray the transportation costs of the farmers during the cocoa seedlings distribution exercise.

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“This is also an offence contrary to and punishable under Section 19 of the ICPC Act,” the statement said
Atte was further sentenced to 1-year imprisonment each on counts 8 to 11 for spending from the sum of N2.849m.

“…An amount earmarked for the purchase of office equipment on what he called Statewide Sensitization Tour; visit Lagos from Lokoja on issues of Power Tiller; and Video Coverage” which was also, contrary to and punishable under section 22(5) of the ICPC Act.

In his judgment, Justice Majebi justified the conviction of the defendant by noting that “the ICPC Legal team comprising Late Suberu Enebere Esq., Okey Golden Iwuagu Esq., and Peace Arocha Esq. (Mrs.) had proved its case beyond reasonable doubt”.

In 2017, the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) had reported on an alleged case of fraud of N35.5m, which led to the Kogi High Court, in Okene remanding the former commissioner in prison.

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