The two men were brought before Justice Aisha Bwari of the Niger State High Court, Minna, on a two-count charge bordering on cheating and fraudulent conversion to personal use.
The long arm of the Law caught up with them when the EFCC received a petition from the Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate, PTAD, alleging that Abdullahi, during routine verification exercise in Minna, was found to have been overpaid his monthly pension entitlements for almost two years.
Abdullahi, a retiree was entitled to N31,000 as monthly pension, and N2,609.68 as his federal pension. However, verification showed that he was receiving N165,313.19. He was found to have remitted N75,000 monthly for almost two years to Gulu who was formerly under the Office of the Head of Service, Pension Service, but presently with the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports. The money had amounted to N1,647,000.
When they charges were read to them, Abdullahi did not waste the time of the court as he immediately pleaded “guilty”, but his accomplice pleaded “not guilty”.
In view of Abdullahi’s plea, Justice Bwari convicted him of the charges.
Munir Isa, counsel for Abdullahi, however, urged the court to temper justice with mercy, pleading that his client “was a first time offender who has diligently served this nation”, and urged the court to consider his state of health, as he was “aged and blind”.
Prosecuting counsel, Ijeabalum Diribe, however urged the court to pronounce the maximum sentence on the defendant, having admitted committing the offence.
The trial judge, thereafter, sentenced Abdullahi to two years in jail with an option of N300,000 as fine.
With the “not guilty” plea of Gulu, the prosecution urged that his trial commence.
Counsel for Gulu, H.A. Yabagi, however, approached the court with bail application of his client, citing section 36(5) of the 1999 Constitution as amended and section 340 of the Criminal Penal Code of Niger State.
“I urge the court to grant bail to the second defendant pending the determination of the substantive suit,” he said, arguing further that the offence was a bailable one.
While not opposing the application for bail, Diribe, urged the court “to exercise its discretion in such a manner that will ensure the availability of the defendant to stand trial”.
Justice Bwari, thereafter, granted bail to Gulu in the sum of N500,000 with two sureties in like sum. The sureties must be resident in Minna, and must have landed properties.
The case has been adjourned to November 21, 2018 for “commencement of trial”