The Federal High Court in Kaduna has sentenced a former registrar of the court, Joseph Udoh, to four years imprisonment for laundering N80 million.
Mr Udoh was sentenced to 12 months in prison on each count, but to run concurrently from the date of his arraignment on a four-count charge before P. H. Mallong, according to a statement on Thursday by the ICPC.
The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) had earlier arraigned the convict and his wife, Grace Udoh, in December 2019 on a 12-count charge for alleged misappropriation of N80 million that had been deposited in the court by a litigant.
According to the commission, the convict reportedly issued cheques in the name of his wife, Grace, who is also a staffer of the Federal High Court of Justice, Abuja, and used the money to acquire properties in some major cities across Nigeria.
Based on a plea bargain agreement entered with the convict, the charges slammed against him were amended to four counts and those against his wife dropped.
When the charges were read before the convict, he pleaded guilty to all of them.
The prosecution counsel, Shehu Yahaya, urged 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.
The counsel to the defendant, Gbenga Ogunniran, agreed with the submission of the prosecution counsel.
The commission quoted the lawyer to have said that the convict did not only embarrass himself but also embarrassed his family.
He pleaded with the court to temper justice with mercy, especially looking at the fact that the convict is a family man, funding his children’s education and taking care of his aged mother.
The judge, Mr Mallong, while delivering judgement, convicted Mr Udoh and ruled that all properties seized by ICPC in the course of investigation, as listed in the schedule of the plea bargain agreement, be forfeited to the commission.
The judge also said that the properties be sold and the proceeds given to the victims of the crime.
“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 remain unpaid, same is to be paid by installments as agreed by the complainant and the convict in accordance with section 429 of the ACJA, 2015,” he said.