TWO former officials of the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation, Mohammed Dongoyaro Audu and Yahya Yusuf Ayodeji, were, on Monday, sentenced to a cumulative jail term of 105 years by a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
The convicts, who were brought before the court by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on a 10-count charge bordering on criminal conspiracy and abuse of office in award of contract to the tune of N1 billion, were convicted and sentenced to 70 years and 35 years in prison respectively.
They allegedly abused their offices by floating companies, Q- Bridgers Worldwide Synergy Limited and AY-Quest Worldwide Limited, through which they cornered contracts emanating from the Economic Reforms and Governance Project (ERGP) Government Integrated Financial Management Information System (GIFMIS) domiciled in the office of the Accountant General of the Federation.
Delivering judgment in the case, which commenced on May 26, 2015, Justice Halilu Yusuf, sitting at Jabi, Abuja, held that in a criminal case, the burden was on the prosecution to prove the guilt of the accused person and not for the accused to prove his innocence.
According to the trial judge, having listened carefully to the witnesses of both the prosecution and defendants in the matter and after carefully examining the documents tendered before the court, he was convinced that the defendants were civil servants as of the time of committing the offences.
He stated that going by Exhibit G, which was the confessional statement of the second defendant, Yahya Yusuf Ayodeji, who confessed to the ownership of AY Quest together with the first defendant, it was crystal cleared that the second defendant was reengaged by the government after his retirement from service in 2009.
The judge noted that the second defendant did not give evidence in court as he was not called by the counsel for the defendants, despite the fact that he was in court throughout the case.
He added that Ayodeji was not never called to give evidence on the nature of his reengagement by the government, declaring that the prosecution was right to have arraigned the defendants under Section 26 of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act 2000, punishable under Section 12 of the same Act.
Justice Yusuf held that despite the fact that the first defendant denied any relationship with Q-Bridgers Worldwide Synergy Limited, the prosecution was able to prove that the defendant acquired private interest in the company.
In convicting the defendants, the judge held that the prosecution was able to prove the 10-count charge against the first defendant, while he convicted second defendant on counts one, three, four, five and nine.
Having convicted the defendants, their counsel, Bassey Eyo, in his allocators, appealed to the court for leniency for his clients.
He added that both convicts were family members with children who needed their fatherly care.
In sentencing the convicts, Justice Yusuf declared that they took advantage of their positions in the World Bank-assisted ERGP GIFMIS domiciled in the office of the Accountant General of the Federation to do what they did.
He, therefore, sentenced them to seven years in prison on each of the count, adding that they term would run concurrently.
The judge further directed that the convicts serve their terms at the Suleja Prisons in Niger State.