The Supreme Court has today affirmed the judgement of the Court of Appeal sentencing a former Assistant Director in the Federal Civil Service, John Yakubu Yusuf to six years imprisonment.
Yusuf was one of six federal officials, tried for stealing N32.8 billion of Police Pension fund. They were part of an elaborate scam that came to light in February 2012 involving top banks, officials and offices.
Justice Tijjani Abubakar in a judgment in an appeal filed by Yusuf upheld the decision of the Court of Appeal which in 2018 sent him to six years imprisonment in addition to the refund of the sum.
The six suspects were arraigned on a 16-count criminal charge bordering on conspiracy and criminal breach of trust at the FCT High Court, Gudu on March 29, 2012.
On January 28 2013, Mr. Yusuf dramatically pleaded guilty to Counts 17, 18 & 19 (totalling N24 billion naira) of EFCC’s amended 20-count charges, was convicted and sentenced to a cumulative six years imprisonment OR an option of a fine of N750,000 as well as forfeiture of properties traced to him by the EFCC valued at N325 million. He wisely opted for the fine and moved on with the rest of his loot.
The Properties made to be forfeited:
Two units of a 3 bedroom semi detached bungalow at R2, A and B, sunny homes, Dakwo District, Abuja; two units of 3 bedroom semi bungalow- detached at M24, A and B, sunny homes Dakwo homes, Dakwo District Abuja; four units of a 3bedroom semi- detached bungalow, managed by Daniel at sunny homes, Dakwo District, Abuja; Eight units of an Estates of two bedroom flats, at Gombe, GRA; one unit Semi-detached Duplex at house 21, 4th Avenue, Gwarinpa, Abuja; four units of a 2 bedroom semi-detached duplex at Bricks city, Kubwa road, Abuja and one unit of Semi- Detached Duplex, at 14B Democracy crescent, Gaduwa, Abuja.
One of the three Counts he pleaded guilty to:
Count 19: “That you John Yakubu Yusufu between 27th January, 2009 and 25th November 2009 at Abuja in the Abuja Division of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory converted to your use certain property, to wit the sum of N1,364, 285, 419.95 (One Billion, Three Hundred and Sixty Four Million, Two Hundred and Eighty Five Thousand, Four Hundred and Nineteen Naira and Ninety five Kobo) belonging to Police Pension Office domiciled in its account with First Bank of Nigeria Plc and you thereby committed an offence punishable under section 309 of the Penal Code Act, Cap. 532, Laws of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, Nigeria, 2007.”
The FCT High Court Judge, Abubakar Talba’s judgement sparked national and international outrage, with the ruling mainly seen as a slap on the wrist. Justice Talba was further suspended by the NJC for one year (2013-2014) and later elevated to the Appeal Court in 2018.
On appeal by the EFCC, the appellate Court on March 21, 2018 upturned the decision of the FCT High Court and jailed Mr. Yusuf for two years on each count and he be made to refund 22.9 billion naira.
*on Counts 17, the Respondent is hereby sentenced to two years imprisonment with an addition of fine of N20 billion Naira;
*on Counts 18, the Respondent is hereby sentenced to two years imprisonment with an addition of fine of 1.4 billion Naira;
*on Counts 19, the Respondent is hereby sentenced to two years imprisonment with an addition of fine of 1.5 billion Naira”.
Yusuf was re-arrested in 2020 to serve his jail term at the Kuje Correctional facility, after been on the run since 2018. He further appealed to the Supreme Court to show mercy as the Appeal Court Judgement was a miscarriage of justice.
The Supreme Court in a panel led by Justice Mohammed Musa Dattijo, JSC upheld in totality the judgement of the Appeal Court.