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High court Registrar who stole N80m from court sentenced to 4 years in prison

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A Federal High Court sitting in Kaduna has sentenced a former Registrar of the court, Joseph Etefia Udoh to four years in prison over N80 million fraud.

In December 2019, the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) arraigned Udoh and his wife, Grace on a 12-count charge of alleged misappropriation of N80 million deposited in the court.

A statement from ICPC read in part, “the convict reportedly issued cheques in the name of his wife, also a staff of the federal high court of justice, Abuja, and used the money to acquire properties in some major cities across Nigeria”.

Following a plea bargain entered with the convict and the ICPC, the charges against Udoh were amended to four counts while all charges against his wife were dropped.

When the charges were read to him, Udoh pleaded guilty to all four counts.

Prosecution counsel, Shehu Yahaya, asked the court to convict and sentence 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 (ACJA) 2015.

But in a plea of allocutus, counsel to the defendant, Gbenga Ogunniran, pleaded with the court to be lenient with the defendant considering the fact that he is a family man who funds his children’s education and caters for his aged mother.

Delivering judgment, Justice Peter Mallong, sentenced Udoh to 12 months’ imprisonment on each count. But the sentence will run concurrently from the date of his arraignment, which was on December 12, 2019.

The court also ordered the ICPC take possession of all properties seized during investigation, as listed in the schedule of the plea bargain agreement, sell and the proceeds given to the victims of the crime.

In addition, the judge said a lien will be placed on the convict’s retirement benefits and/or pension savings in order to pay up any outstanding sum after the sale of the forfeited properties.

 
 
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