The Gombe State High Court, in Gombe, on Tuesday, sentenced a 67-year-old retired secondary school principal, Bello Abubakar, to two years’ imprisonment for fraud and running of illegal institutions.
The trial judge, Halima Muhammed, convicted and sentenced him to two years’ imprisonment on the two counts of fraud filed against him by the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC).
ICPC’s spokesperson, Azuka Ogugua, who disclosed this in a statement issued on Tuesday, said the commission had in the two counts, accused Mr Abubakar of defrauding unsuspecting admission seekers of N3,884,200 in the guise of offering them admission into three illegal higher institutions being run by him.
The commission accused Mr Abubakar of obtaining the N3.8million by false pretence while illegally operating the three different institutions known as Goni Mukhtar Polytechnic, Goni Mukhtar College of Education and Goni Mukhtar Linguistic Centre, “in one block of three classrooms in Gombe State”.
According to ICPC, Mr Abubakar, a former principal of Gombe State Secondary School Principal, allegedly ran the suspicious institutions, defrauding a number of victims between 2009 and 2015, in violation of section 13 and punishable under Section 68 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000, as well as Section 1(i) of the Advanced Fee Fraud Act, 2006 and Section 320 of the Penal Code.
Change of plea
ICPC said Mr Abubakar initially pleaded not guilty to the charges in the case marked GM/128C/2021, during his arraignment on February 22, 2022.
As a result of this, the judge adjourned the case until March 29 and 30 for trial.
However, at the resumed hearing on Tuesday, Mr Abubakar changed his plea from “not guilty” to “guilty”.
Following the defendant’s guilty plea, ICPC’s prosecuting counsel, Mashkur Salisu, applied for the review of the facts.
After he was granted the leave to proceed, the prosecuting counsel tendered all necessary documents in line with section 290 (1) of Gombe State Administration of Criminal Justice Act.
The prosecuting counsel urged the court to convict the defendant and order the immediate and permanent shutdown of all the three illegal institutions with which he perpetrated the alleged fraud.
In reaction, the defence lawyer, A.B. Ebrany, prayed the court for leniency for his client on the grounds of his age, having a large family, and being a first-time offender.
The judge, in her judgement, convicted the defendant and sentenced him to two years’ imprisonment. The court also ordered the immediate and permanent closure of the illegal institutions as requested by the prosecution.