The High Court of Anambra State has sentenced a former treasurer with the Anambra State Ministry of Finance, Innocent Onwuka, to five years’ imprisonment for defrauding pensioners of N66.5 million.
The judge, Arinze Akabua, convicted him on all three counts of forgery and theft preferred against him by the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC), a statement by the anti-graft agency stated on Tuesday.
According to the statement signed by ICPC’s spokesperson, Azuka Ogugwa, the judge sentenced the convict to five years’ imprisonment on counts 1 and 2, and one-year imprisonment on counts 3.
The judge ruled that sentences would run concurrently, implying that the convict will only spend five years in prison, the longest jail term imposed by the court.
ICPC alleged that Mr Onwuka, a former sub-treasurer with the ministry of finance, diverted funds designated for the payment of gratuities to retired civil officials under the Aguata Sub-Treasury in Anambra State.
It said investigations indicated that the convict abused his position by bestowing dishonest advantage on himself when he embezzled N66,520,564.62 designated for paying gratuities to retired personnel of the Aguata sub-treasury.
Counsel for ICPC, Enosa Omoghibo, told the court that the convict committed the offence between June 2009 and June 2011, when he diverted the entire N66.5 million released by the state government for payment of gratuity to retirees.
The court heard that Mr Onwuka was posted to Aguata Treasury office within the period. And, in defiance to the lawful directives issued to him by the then Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Finance to pay gratuities of retired civil servants under the Aguata Sub Treasury, diverted the monies released to other purposes, thereby leaving the affected beneficiaries in want and penury.
The judge, at the conclusion of the trial, found Mr Onwuka guilty on all three counts and sentenced him to five years imprisonment on counts one and two, and one-year imprisonment on counts three.
The sentences will run concurrently, the court ruled.
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