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N24bn pension fraud: Fleeing convicted director’s case stalled over AGF’s fiat

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The Supreme Court on Thursday demanded from the law firm of Rotimi Jacobs and Co the fiat issued to it by the Attorney-General of the Federation to prosecute John Yakubu Yusufu, who was convicted for diverting N24bn.

reported that Yusufu, a former Deputy Director in the Federal Civil Service Pension Office, who is currently serving his six-year sentence, had appealed to the Supreme Court to set aside the 2018 judgment of the Court of Appeal in Abuja.

During the mention of the case on Thursday, Theodore Maiyaki announced appearance for the appellant.

When Oluwaleke Atolagbe (from the firm of Rotimi Jacobs and Co) announced appearance for the respondent (the Federal Republic of Nigeria), a member of the five-justices panel of the Supreme Court, Justice Centus Nweze sought to know if he (Atolagbe) was from the Office of the AGF.

Atolagbe said he was a private lawyer whose firm was instructed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to prosecute the case from the trial court.

Justice Nweze insisted that Atolagbe must present the fiat issued to the firm by the AGF before further steps could be taken in the case.

When asked by the Head of the panel, Justice Musa Muhammad, if he had the fiat with him in court, Atolagbe said no, but stressed that a letter from the EFCC, authorising his firm to prosecute the case, was in his office.

Justice Muhammad in a ruling said although the court sympathised with the appellant (who Maiyaki said was currently in a correctional facility), further proceedings in the case would be suspended pending when the respondent produced the fiat issue on which basis it prosecuted the case.

Justice Muhammad then adjourned the case till January 27, 2022 at the instance of the respondent.

Recall that Justice Abubakar Talba of the High Court of the Feral Capital Territory had, in a judgment on January 28, 2013 convicted Yusufu on a three-count charge to which he pleaded guilty following a plea bargain agreement with the EFCC.

Justice Talba had sentenced him to two years imprisonment on each count, with the option of N250,000 for each count, a decision the EFCC appealed.

But in its bjudgment on March 21, 2018, the Appeal Court reversed the judgment of the High Court of the FCT and sentenced Yusufu to a cumulative six years imprisonment.

The appellate court then ordered him to refund N22.9bn to Federal Government, a decision he appealedat the Supreme Court.

Although the Appeal Court’s judgment was given in 2018, Yusufu remained a free man until June 2020 when the EFCC arrested him in Gombe State.

He was later taken before Justice Hussein Baba-Yusuf of the High Court of the FCT, who on June 22, 2020 ordered him to be sent to prison to serve his sentence.

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