Kingsley Nwezeh in Abuja
Operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), yesterday rearrested a former Assistant Director in the Federal Civil Service, Mr. John Yakubu Yusuf.
Yusuf has been on the run since 2018 after the Court of Appeal, Abuja Division, sentenced him to six years imprisonment and a fine of N22.9billion, for conniving with five other suspects to steal N32.8billion police pension fund.
This is coming as the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), has commended the EFCC for offering assistance to it in the investigation and prosecution of six Nigerians involved in Business Email Compromise( BEC) and wire fraud in the United States of America.
Following his rearrest, Justice Baba Yusuf of the FCT High Court yesterday, June 22, 2020, issued a remand order that will enable him serve his six years’ jail term in Kuje Correctional Service, Abuja.
Yusuf is one of the six federal civil servants facing prosecution for allegedly stealing N32.8billion police pension fund.
He was initially convicted and sentenced to two years imprisonment with an option of fine of N750, 000.00 by a Federal Capital Territory High Court presided over by Justice Abubakar Talba, in a plea-bargain arrangement.
The conviction, considered to be a slap on the wrist, sparked national and international outrage.
The EFCC, dissatisfied with the judgment of the trial court, approached the appellate court to set aside the judgment.
Ruling on the substantive matter, the Justices of the Court of Appeal held unanimously that the three counts involving Yusuf (Counts 17, 18 and 19) clearly stated the amounts he converted for his personal use.
He pleaded guilty to the three counts and thereby admitted to the conversion of an aggregate sum of about N24billion to his personal use.
The court stressed that the sentence of the trial court, did not serve as deterrence to both the convict and others.
Consequently, the justices ruled that the sentence is “hereby quashed and deserves to be reviewed as follows: on Counts 17, the Respondent is hereby sentenced to two years imprisonment with an addition of fine of N20billion on Counts 18, the respondent is hereby sentenced to two years imprisonment with an addition of fine of N1.4billion Naira; on counts 19, the respondent is hereby sentenced to two years imprisonment with an addition of fine of 1.5billion Naira.
The sentence of imprisonment is to run consecutively and the fine is to be cumulative.
Meanwhile, the FBI, has commended the EFCC for offering assistance to it in the investigation and prosecution of six Nigerians involved in Business Email Compromise( BEC) and wire fraud in the United States of America.
United States Attorney, Joe Kelly and Special FBI Agent, Kristi Johnson, in a statement made available to the EFCC, commended the commission for its “past and continued assistance in pursuing those that engage in Business Email Compromise and other fraud schemes.”
Six Nigerians: Richard Izuchukwu Uzuh; Alex Afolabi Ogunshakin; Michael Olorunyomi; Felix Osilama Okpoh, Abiola Ayorinde Kayode and Nnamdi Orson Benson were indicted and sanctioned by the FBI for conducting elaborate fraud schemes involving alleged stealing of more than $6million from “individual victims and victim businesses both in Nebraska and other states”.
BECs are sophisticated cyber crimes involving electronic transfer payments or automated clearing house transfers. The six Nigerians indicted by the FBI are accused of “violations of federal laws including conspiracy to commit wire fraud and wire fraud, punishable by up to 20 years of imprisonment and a fine of up to $250,000.
They were also indicted for “identity theft and access device fraud, each punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment and a fine of up to $250,000”.
The FBI described the EFCC as one of its “foreign colleagues abroad” and expressed appreciation for its “ commitment to working together”.
EFCC and FBI were involved in a joint field operation against cyber criminals in Nigeria in 2019 which yielded significant dividends.
The operation, codenamed “Operation Rewired,” was a hit against trans-Atlantic syndicates of cyber criminals operating in intricate, sophisticated networks.
Following the operation, 167 Nigerian suspected cybercriminals were arrested and a total sum of $169,850 and N92,000,000 were recovered from the suspects.
The FBI also presented certificates to operatives of the EFCC that took part in the joint operation.