How Judge Tricked EFCC To Free $203 Million Pension Fund Thief- ICIR

By International Centre for Investigative Reporting

Justice Abubakar Talba, the Federal High Court, Abuja, judge who sentenced John Yusufu, former director in the Police Pension Office, to two years in prison with an option of N250,000 fine on each of the three counts, breached an agreement reached by parties in the case.

In the controversial ruling delivered on January 28, Mr. Talba sentenced Yusufu, who pleaded guilty to three of 20 counts charges bordering on embezzlement of over N23 billion, to two years in prison but gave the accused person an option of fine.

The ruling drew anger from many Nigerians, including legal experts, who believe that granting an option of fine for such a monumental fraud would encourage corruption by public officers.

But Justice Talba’s judgment equally shocked parties in the case, particularly the prosecution team. Icirnigeria.org authoritatively gathered that the prosecution and defense lawyers actually had an agreement on specific outcomes of the case which included a custodian sentence which was breached by the judge.

Mr. Yusufu, it was learnt, had approached officials of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC who investigated the embezzlement case against him and others seeking a deal.

The accused person’s offer was that he be made a prosecution witness. He promised to expose all the rot that had gone on at the Police Pension Office for years and testify against his former colleagues for a deal that would ostensibly free him.

However, the EFCC did not take the bait, arguing that its investigations had been so thorough that it had unearthed all that transpired in the pension office. It argued further that Mr. Yusufu had been neck deep in the criminal diversion of pensioners’ funds to be let free.

However, Mr. Yusufu and his lawyers came up with another offer, a plea bargain deal which would entail him pleading guilty to lesser charges in order to get a light sentence. When the EFCC and its lawyers were approached with the deal, the commission insisted that two conditions being met.

First, it said that Yusufu had to give full disclosure of his assets and forfeit everything he had acquired with the money he got from pension funds. Also, the commission and its legal team insisted that the accused person must receive custodian sentence, meaning that he had to spend some time in jail.

A source in the commission said that the anti-graft agency considered the plea bargain deal because if it could get Mr. Yusufu to agree to voluntarily declare and forfeit his ill-gotten assets, it would save it time and resources.

Besides, the commission reasoned, if it could get one of the pension thieves to plead guilty, it would strengthen the case against the others who had pleaded not guilty. In any case, prosecutors and investigators also reasoned, a key goal of the whole case was to retrieve what had been stolen, so it was fine by them if Mr. Yusufu was offering to relinquish his loot willingly.

On its part, the defense team agreed to these conditions but pleaded that the accused person be charged with lesser offences that would carry minimal sentence. That was why Mr. Yusufu was charged under Section 309 of the Penal code, the maximum sentence of which is two years in jail.

Our source disclosed that when the two parties reached an agreement on the details of the deal, they approached Justice Talba. Although no formal agreement was written or signed by any of the parties, the two side agreed with the judge that first, the accused person would declare and forfeit all assets he acquired with proceeds of the funds he stole.

Secondly, the parties agreed that he would be given custodian sentence with no option of fine. The EFCC lawyers were very insistent on this, arguing that in spite of the plea bargain, the accused must serve a jail term to serve as deterrent to others. It was however left to the discretion of the judge whether to apply the maximum sentence of two years or not.

However, prosecution lawyers were shocked on February 28 as the judge sentenced Mr. Yusufu to the maximum of two years in prison but with an option of fine which was not in the agreement.

Some in the prosecution team alleged that Mr. Yusufu and his lawyers went behind to “induce” the judge to give him an option of fine. After his sentencing, Mr. Yusuf drove home a free man after paying the total of N750 imposed on him by the judge.

However, the convict was mistaken if he thought he had succeeded in playing a fast one on the prosecution and the EFCC. What he did not know was that investigators had discovered that he did not make full disclosure of his assets and finances as an account controlled by him was discovered.
He was discovered to own a company, SY-AGlobal Services Limited, into which he had kept N250 million. Two other account controlled by him were also found containing N29 million and N10million.

Based on this, Mr. Yusufu was rearrested the next day after he gained his dubious freedom and slammed with a four – count charge of false declaration of assets before Justice Adamu Bello of the Federal High Court, Abuja.
Under the EFCC (establishment) Act 2004, the new charge against Mr. Yusufu carries a five years prison sentence without any option of fine.
Section 27 (30 of the Act states:

“Any Person who –
(a) knowingly fails to make full disclosure of his assets and liabilities ;or
(b) knowingly makes a declaration that is false; or
(c) fails, neglects or refuses to make a declaration or furnishes any information required, in the Declaration of Assets Form;
 commits an offence under this Act and is liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term of five years.”

Justice Bello ordered the accused person to be remanded in Kuje prison pending the March 1 date for commencement of trial.

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Plea Bargain

Justice Talba must have smoken some strange tobacco(as his name sounds-a product of quota system) to arrive at his ridiculous sentence. Perhaps,that is the new style by the judiciary to feather its nest. I hope at the appointed time these idiots in black robes will accept the peoples'vengence with some dignity?

Transparent

Your recommendation is dubious, or at best simplistic. To suggest that EFCC should be scrapped and cases of corruption handed over to the Nigerian police who are extremely corrupt let alone extremely incompetent is nothing but ridiculous.

you commentetors are all just

you commentetors are all just making empty noises,what is the brave way out ? scrap effcc, hand the department back to the police igp and see the difference it will make .

Injustice

A man stole a chicken, he was given nine year imprisonment, without an option of fine,and a rich man stole 23 billion, he is give two years imprisonment with an option of fine. What an injustice, God will judge all earthly judges.

@ tundemash

Oga, why you de post everything twice now?

@OSEMELOMEN :Nonsensical? I think NOT!

Please sir, do not pea on our feet and tell us that it is the rain. The judge is as guilty as sin. The process of bargaining is over-seen by the judiciary to ensure the interest of justice. What about the spirit of the law? The criminal is not meant to return to his circumstances prior to the offence without noticeable reparation/punishment. Otherwise, where is the disincentive to steal on such a large scale?

While you talk about the judge not having a way of putting his case to the court of public opinion, there is a clear mechanism for his 'case' to be addressed, if any exists against the EFCC. I think that you are a lawyer with a grip, because your take on the issue is more nonsensical than the article.

A beg shake my hands from

A beg shake my hands from where you are. In fact,you are a nice and real observer.The judgement was very funny by the way passed!!!

@Anonymous (not verified) on February 6, 2013 - 12:55.

The process is called plea bargaining. It is an essential part of the criminal justice system. Both parties know their positions and can get together to see what they can do to expedite the process and promote their interests. The interest of the EFCC is to maximize the interest of justice, while reducing the cost to the criminal justice system, hence the bargaining. On the other hand the interest of the defense is to secure an agreement that should reduce the tariff of their client. Both parties don't have to agree, in which case the matter is resolved in court and the full tariff applies as appropriate.

@Deri: EFCCis no diff. from any other govt. agency under Dumbo

@Deri

The appointment of Lamorde was one of the "achievements" of Dumbo Jo you have celebrated in the past and now you want him sacked. Why don't you advise Dumbo Jo when next you go to Aso Rock for your usual ogogoro session with the drunkard President. ANIMAL !

EFCC is not different from any other parastatal under Dumbo. Corruption has become a way of life under this animal who escaped from Otuoke zoo ! Next Farouk Lawan will also strike a deal with them with tacit approval of the Otuoke moron. Have u heard anything about the oil subsidy probe ? It's a free-for-all corrupt govt.

You fake lawyer OC has no comment on this story but busy supporting confused Abati on another forum. Ofcourse he's fake lawyer with no law pedigree.

@Deri: Few months ago, u were celebrating Lamorde

@Deri

The appointment of Lamorde was one of the "achievements" of Dumbo Jo you have celebrated in the past and now you want him sacked. Why don't you advise Dumbo Jo when next you go to Aso Rock for your usual ogogoro session with the drunkard President. ANIMAL !

EFCC is not different from any other parastatal under Dumbo. Corruption has become a way of life under this animal who escaped from Otuoke zoo ! Next Farouk Lawan will also strike a deal with them with tacit approval of the Otuoke moron. Have u heard anything about the oil subsidy probe ? It's a free-for-all corrupt govt.

You fake lawyer OC has no comment on this story but busy supporting confused Abati on another forum. Ofcourse he's fake lawyer with no law pedigree.

The Nigerian judiciary if

The Nigerian judiciary if they ever had any credibility have now been shown to be a bunch of fraudsters and armed robbers, yes they are armed with their pens and the power of their bogus judgments. Even a street robber needs caution in case of identification and facing the consequences of their actions. But the judicial robbers know no such fears, because our system is not robust enough to quickly and effectively get rid of deadwoods who are only in it fo personal enrichment.

The question now is, what happens to this judas judge, who has dragged the name of the country through mud? This is the continuing disgrace of Africa and a reason for our backwardness. What more would these people not try to get away with? Why have the authorities in charge of this crooked judge not said anything? We indeed live in a jungle. If anyone deserves lynching in Nigeria, it is this crooked judge - Abubakar Talba.

TIME FOR REVOLUTION IS NOW

Nigerians!! this is the time for a revolution.We have talked enough.We should down tools in all works of life untill the government resigns together with the National Assembly,state houses of assemblies,all political parties,past and present leaders brought to book together with all the people who have stolen our common wealth.Untill this is done,Nigeria will not progress.THE TIME IS NOW.Let's stop deciving ourselves.THE TIME IS NOW.

LAMORDE

EFCC WANTS US TO BELIEVE THAT THEY HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH THE SENTENCE AND ARE THROWING JUDGE UNDER THE BUS, NOW IF YOU BELIEVE THAT THEN THEY HAVE YOU FOOLED. LAMORDE IS JUST WASTING RESOURCE , HE TOOK A MAN WHO STOLE BILLIONS TO COURT AND CAME OUT WITH A SENTENCE LIKE THAT, HE OUGHT TO LOOSE HIS JOB AND THE THE JUDGE DISBARRED . THESE GUYS MAKE PEOPLE LOOSE HOPE IN THE JUSTICE SYSTEM

Na wa for Naija

The picture of Nigeria problem is getting clearer by the day and very soon some group of people will find it very difficult to walk freely on the street of this country for shame.A country where a man steal vegetable for hunger sake and goes for two years in prison while another steal the entire future of people who served this country with there live,and many of them died without proper medical care and feeding,you sentence him to two years or he pays fine from the same loot and he conveniently pays.
The issue is not the thief (for there will always be thieves in the land) but with judge who lacks the merit and honour to be certified by any legal institution as a practitioner not to talk of being on the bench.
The poor man is praying to his maker, soon the judge of the universe will respond.
Those who think they've built havens for themselves with stolen monies will soon find themselves in the cool.
things cannot continue like this.
we need change and we need it now.

THE MORE YOU HEAR;THE LESS YOU UNDERSTAND!

IN THE SCRIPTURE-ST LUKE SPECIFICALLY:
WHAT EVER YOU HAVE DONE IN THE DARK SHALL COME OUT IN THE LIGHT AND THE MUGU MUGU AND MAGOMAGO YOU HAVE WHISPERED IN YOUR PRIVATE (EFCC / JUDGE CHAMBER)ROOM SHALL BE PROCLAIMED UPON THE HOUSE TOPS!
I DONT NEED PAPA ADEBOYE TO TEACH ME THAT.I READ BIBLE DURING MY SECONDARY SCHOOL DAYS.
MORE TO COME.

Please can someone explain to

Please can someone explain to me as it seems I do not understand the story.

So criminal cases are decided after meeting between the accused, his counsel, prosecutor, counsel to prosecutor and trial judge? or is it because the amount involved in large and they have to agree on the sharing formula?

The judge handed out the maximum sentence

The judge handed out the maximum sentence based on the charges that EFCC brought before the court.
If the maximum sentence is 2 years or option of fine, what did you expect the judge to do ?. The truth is that the EFCC made a deal with the man to reduce the charges long before they even got to court, thats why he got away with it. All this "re-arresting" etc is just show.

EFCC!

I agree totally with Olugu Olugu Orji that EFCC is economical with the truth. If Justice Talba has 10% blame, EFCC certainly has 90% of the blame. Nigerians are no fools. Without the public outcry, EFCC would not have suddenly discovered other undisclosed accounts.
Shame.......EFCC.......With recent disclosures by El Rufai, its clear you can not be better than the mother that gave birth to you no matter how hard you try. Even the Police is gradually gaining respectability. Again, I say SHAME EFCC

sack Lamorde-he is a crook

This is not about every nation gets the kind of president it deserves crap again-Late Gani and OBJ contested the presidential election in 2003-Nigerians said they preferred OBJ to Gani-why complain now if the same 9jas vote for Jonathan? Is 9ja meant to be ruled by only one ethnic group--the yorubas and fulanis? Efcc under Lamorde has failed-Its clear that man is a crook-when Waziri was there it was the same Nigerians who were hired to tarnish her image-now look at the mess in efcc-the story does not make sense-its clear the deal was struck between the judge and officials of efcc-period! Sadly its only people from the SS that go to jail in Nigeria! And not members from the 19 Holy state in d Fulani North-Buhari did same with his tribes men like alhaji alhaji-he freed them-and jailed Fela!

EFCC image laudaering

EFCC has paid sowore again(like in the days of Ribadu) to launder its image by rubbishing judges. Soworo is a criminal any day. This writeup is a pack of lies. EFCC is liable. EFCC is corrupt.

The Judge has 11 (eleven!) children, ke!

He needs the money to feed his footbal team, fool!

What a disgrace to the legal profession and a messy EFCC

it is shameful that our anti-graft agencies have become a business venture and the legal profession bastardized. Does that mean the common man doesn't have hope in this country? Both EFCC and the Nigerian Judiciary has a lot to explain to Nigerians as far as Corruption is concern.

Lawyers are "LIARS"

Lawyers are "LIARS"

In conclusion, every criminal

In conclusion, every criminal brought by the EFCC can bargain their way out. WHAT A BUNCH OF JOKERS!!!

And Dumbo Jonathan has not sacked the EFCC chairman?

Are armed robbers given the option of plea bargaining ? Why should pen-robbers be given the option of plea bargaining if EFCC had indeed done a thorough investigation ? Why should a vegetable thief be sent to prison without plea bargaining but a N23.3b thief is allowed plea-bargaining? Only in Jonathan's transformation agenda is this allowed to happen .

Are armed robbers given the option of plea bargaining ?

Are armed robbers given the option of plea bargaining ? Why should pen-robbers be given the option of plea bargaining if EFCC had indeed done a thorough investigation ? Why should a vegetable thief be sent to prison without plea bargaining but a N23.3b thief is allowed plea-bargaining? Only in Jonathan's transformation agenda is this allowed to happen .

A nation of ignoramuses where

A nation of ignoramuses where issues are discussed on perception not on the actual.
Look closely at the story and see its loop holes. Plea bargain...... done to save time? whose time? EFCC or who. You think if there is a diligence in investigation the EFCC will go for flee bargain? no it will go for the kill and take all the glory.
Prosecution gets all result of its sloppiness. The bargain agreement is not even documented and you want us to believe you (EFCC) get another story to yarn

Defence Team Dictating Sentence

It's very sad from the story above that the judge can descend so low as to negotiate judgements with the defence team.When has a High court of criminal jurisdiction become an arbitration panel?Plea bargaining should even have been after passing judgement not before,justice Talba should be investigated and if found wanting,he should be severely punished to serve as deterrent to other cash n carry judges of his like.

The Judge went to islamic school

Judge Abubakar Talba went to islamic school that is why he does not have the correct brain to administer human justice.

Jonathan had not declared his asset

Whicb part of the act will nail the author of the I don't give a damn? I guess (c) because he had failed, neglected and refused to declare his asset

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