For issuing cheques to his wife to steal N80 million from government’s coffers, Joseph Etefia Udoh, now a retired Registrar of the Federal High Court, Abuja, is to cool his heels in prison in the next four years.
Both Udoh and his wife, Grace, were arraigned in December 2019 by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) before Justice P. H. Mallong of the Federal High Court on a twelve-count charge bordering on misappropriation of N80 million deposited in the court by a litigant.
To perfect the theft, the convict issued cheques in the name of his wife and a staff of the Federal High Court of Justice, Abuja, to siphon the money which he used to buy some properties in some major cities across Nigeria.
Justice Mallong sentenced Udoh to 12 months imprisonment on each count which will, however, run concurrently from the date of his arraignment on December 12, 2019.
The court ruled that all properties seized by ICPC in the course of the investigation is listed in the schedule of the plea bargain agreement be forfeited to the commission and sold while the proceeds will be given to the litigant.
In addition, a lien would be placed on the convict’s retirement benefits and/or pension savings for any balance still outstanding against the defendant after the sale of the forfeited properties.
And in the event of any outstanding sum, and balance payment by the convict remains unpaid, same is to be paid by instalments as agreed by the complainant and the convict in accordance with Section 429 of the ACJA, 2015.
Following a plea bargain agreement entered into by the convict, the charges labelled against him were amended to four counts and those against his wife dropped.
Persecondnews recalls that Udoh had earlier pleaded guilty to all the charges.
The prosecution counsel, Mr Shehu Yahaya, urged the court to convict the defendant according to the terms of the plea bargain agreement before the court as provided in Section 270 (10) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015.
Counsel to the defendant, Mr Gbenga Ogunniran, did not object to the submission of the counsel, saying the convict did not only embarrass himself but also embarrassed his family.
He, however, urged the court to temper justice with mercy, pointing out that the convict is a family man, who will still be funding his children’s education and taking care of his aged mother.