Lying EFCC in desperate need for a success story (Less than 3-year jail term falsely presented as 115-year jail term)

Posted by Emeka Ugwuonye | 19 February 2014 | 4,172 times

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After losing nearly every case it has ever prosecuted, mostly at preliminary stages, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is too eager to announce success in one case, where it published in its bulletin that a Lagos High Court convicted a man of fraud and theft and sentenced him to 115 years. The EFCC Bulletin goes as follows (my comments follow):

“EFCC Press Release: N8.9m Scam: Court Jails Ex-Banker 115 Years” Posted Feb, 18 2014, 4:02PM By Wilson Uwujaren, Head, Media & Publicity

“A Lagos High Court sitting in Igbosere, presided over by Justice Adebisi Akinlade on Monday February 17, 2014 sentenced Jamiu Seun Odunayo, a former banker, to One Hundred and Fifteen Years (115) imprisonment with no option of fine over an offence which borders on fraud. Stealing, and obtaining money by false pretence.

“The convict was arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC on 39-count amended charge for fraudulently obtaining money by false pretences, stealing and suppression of funds to the tune of Eight Million Eight Hundred and Twenty Nine Thousand, Six Hundred and Fifty Naira, (N8, 829,650) belonging to a customer and diverted it for personal use. “One of the counts reads: ‘Seun Jamiu Odunayo sometime on the 7th day of March 2011 in Lagos within the Ikeja Judicial Division whilst being a staff of Skye Bank Plc stole N848,690.00 (Eight Hundred and Forty Eight Thousand, Six Hundred and Ninety Naira) property of Skye Bank Plc’.

“The convict had earlier pleaded not guilty to the 39-count charge that was preferred against him but later changed his plea following a plea bargain. However Justice Akinlade, in her ruling on Monday, sentenced the defendant to one Hundred and Fifteen Years imprisonment, (115) – three years on each of the 39-count charge. They are to run concurrently. The sentence is to start from the date of his arrest.

“The journey to prison began on May 19, 2011, when the commission received a petition from a bank, alleging that one of its staff who was a Cash Pick up Officer to one of its customers, did not credit the customer’s account. The customer alerted the bank, when she discovered that the sum of Eight Million Eight Hundred and Twenty Nine Thousand Six Hundred and Fifty Naira, N8, 829,650 was not credited into her account. The convict consequently absconded from his duty post to evade arrest.

“However, Odunayo in his statement stated that he started stealing from the customer’s account in November 2010, due to delay in payment of his salary. He started with N50, 000 (Fifty Thousand Naira) and later increased it till it reached the sum of N848, 690.00.

“The convicts confessed that he used part of the money for his wedding; built a 4-bedroom bungalow in Mowe, Ogun state; bought a car, and used the rest for clubbing.”


(1) Even without anything other than the above self-serving statement but the EFCC, it is clear to any lawyer of average intelligence that a court would not sentence anybody to 115 years for less than nine million naira. What happened is that the sentences would run concurrently to probably 3 years in all. But the EFCC felt the need to lie and exaggerate this legal event by stating that the man faced 115 years, even after it knew that the sentences would run concurrently. Note that the man would have received credit for any time spent in detention after he after he was arrested by the EFCC. So, the actual sentence is less 3 years. But the EFCC just uttered a bold-faced lie.

(2) Why would the EFCC make such false or exaggerated claim? The reason is simply because the EFCC is aware of two things: (a) It has failed Nigerians by its abysmal failure upon failure and so it has to tell some little lies to cover up; and (b) EFCC hopes that every Nigerian would be gullible and would believe anything he or she reads.

(3) People who stole billions of naira have not been convicted through the efforts of the EFCC. While it is nice to convict every person that committed a crime, there is nothing for the EFCC to celebrate in this case of 8 million naira ($54,000). We need to get to those who stole billions as well as these little fellows. We need to convict those who wrecked Nigeria through corruption. I don’t think that the reason Nigeria spent billions funding the EFCC was just for them to be able to convict only those that stole little money.

(4) As we saw in Bode George’s case, even when the EFCC manages to get lucky at the High Court, it lacks the ability to escape reversal on appeals. So, if EFCC were to be honest, it should not make too much noise yet because this man is going on appeal to correct any errors made at the High Court. It is his right under the constitution.

(5) Nigerians may like to know how much the EFCC paid possibly the private lawyers hired to prosecute this case. For all it is worth, the EFCC might have paid 20 million naira as fees to the lawyers in order for them to get this judgment. And Nigeria would pay another 20 million naira for any appeals that may follow soon. EFCC celebrates spending 40 million to convict a person who stole less than 9 million, a job that could have been done for less than 2 million if the EFCC were not itself corrupt). That is Nigeria’s money being poorly managed by the EFCC.

(6) Well, having said all this, it is not bad to say congratulations to the EFCC for wining one out of every two hundred cases it takes to court.

•Emeka Ugwuonye, Esquire, lawyer and activist, writes from Maryland, USA. Photo shows EFCC Chairman, Ibrahim Lamorde.

Source: News Express

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