Joshua Augustine, a former Special Adviser on Revenue Matters to Taraba State government, has been convicted of a two-count charge bordering on criminal breach of trust, misappropriation and conversion of public funds.
In 2012, the Federal Government provided financial assistance to the tune of N400 million for the procurement of relief materials for victims of 2012 flood disaster. Two committees were set up for the puprpose, with Augustine appointed head of one of them. The sum of N214,795,870 was given to the committee, out of which a total of N5,452,580 was diverted.
He was accused to have, between October 20, 2012 and December 29, 2012, as Secretary of the Procurement Sub-Committee 'A' Northern and Central Zones, “dishonestly misappropriated the sum of N5,452,580 out of the total sum of N214,795,870”.
Augustine was first arraigned before Justice Filibus Andetur of the Taraba State High Court in March 2016. At the end of the trial, the prosecution presented five witnesses and tendered several documents to prove its case against him.
In finding him guilty o Wednesday, Justice Andetur sentenced him to one year in prison on count one with an option of N100,000 as fine, and six months on count two with an option of N50,000 as fine to run concurrently.
The trial judge, however, added that: “In consideration that the convict has made considerable refund, almost all, the court suspends the sentence against the convict with the payment of the outstanding balance of N300,000 which the convict misappropriated as restitution to government and if he doesn't pay, he goes to prison as the sentence stands”.
In a related development, the trial of Abdullahi Mohammed, a businessman arraigned before Justice Filibus Andetur in June 2018 on a nine-count charge of criminal breach of trust and forgery, has been adjourned to October 30, 2018 due to the inability of the defence to "perfect its appearance".
Mohammed was entrusted with grains by one Alhaji Jubrin Maida, but allegedly disposed of the items and diverted the money to personal use.
The defence counsel, led by Isa Buba, told the court that he was not in a position to proceed with the case, as his brief was just perfected “this morning”.
“I have also not been able to interview the defendant to prepare for his defence,” he added.
He thus pleaded with the court to extend the interim bail given to his client in order to perfect his bail conditions.
Prosecuting counsel, Francis Jirbo, did not oppose the application.
"Though the application lacks merit, I hope that the defence will learn the right way in the profession," he said.
The trial judge thereafter adjourned to October 30, 2018 noting that, “as the defendant is not ready to go on and has not been able to perfect his interim bail conditions granted to him, he is to be remanded in Jalingo prison".