From GBENGA ADESUYI, Ibadan
Justice Mashood Abass of the Oyo State High Court yesterday sentenced the Provost and Bursar of the Federal Cooperative College, Eleyele Ibadan, Mrs Ruth Adehwe Aweto and Mr. Adekanye Komolafe to four years imprisonment without an option of fine. The judge found the two accused persons guilty of four-count charge out of eight- count charge of corrupt practices leveled against them by the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and therefore, sentenced them to one year imprisonment on each of the counts.
The sentences are to run concurrently. According to the count charge : “ Ruth A. Aweto [Female] and Adekanye Komolafe [Male] between the months of October 2005 and January 2006 or thereabout ,at Ibadan , being public officers in the service of Federal Cooperative College, Ibadan did engage in a criminal conspiracy to use a document which is defective in material particular; to wit , budget proposal submitted by the college for the year 2006 to mislead the Federal Government of Nigeria by stating in the afore said budget proposal that 41 casual staff ers of the said college, who were entitled to N3,690,000 as total annual emolument for the year 2006 were permanent staffers of the said college and were therefore entitled to full benefits and emoluments as payable staff totaling N7,041,861.15 for the year 2006.”
Justice Abass, in his over three hours judgement said the prosecution had proved the case beyond reasonable doubt and that the two accused persons being the principal officers of the college betrayed the trust reposed in them by the Federal Government by using their positions to defraud the public by using money put in their custody by the Federal Government for smooth administration of the college.
The justice added that from the available evidence before the court, including the statements and evidences of the two accused persons, the college employed 41 casual workers with the monthly salary of N7.5000 while their total entitlement supposed to be N3, 690,000 for the total emolument of year 2006 .But the accused jacked up the said salary and total emolument to N7, 041, 861.15k. He noted that the accused persons told the court that they agreed to submit budget proposal of N7, 041,861.15k of the college on the 41 casual workers for the year 2006 based on the fact that they had conducted an interview for the 41 casual staffers under the leadership of one Mr. Ubedie in preparation for their confirmation as full staffers of the college.
The justice further emphasised that the accused admitted that they did not return the balance of N3, 351,851,15k of the money to the coffers of the Federal Government in 2006, instead, they claimed they used the balance to off-set the outstanding salary of 2004 to the workers. He submitted that the two accused, throughout the trial failed to show any documents or failed to call the superior officer from the Federal Government that gave them authority to convert the balance of the N3.3million of 2006 budget which they collected from the government.
Justice Abass then declared that the accused were charged under ICPC law which stated:” Engaging in a conspiracy to commit an offence under the corrupt practices and other related offences Act 2000 contrary to section 26[c] and punishable under section 17 [c] of the ICPC Act 2000. He added that the offence carries five year imprisonment without option of fine. But having considered that the two accused were first offender, the position of their family during and after the trial and so on sentenced them to one year each of four count charges of count five to count eight. But discharged and acquitted them of count one to count to four of the charge.