Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu of a Federal High Court in Abuja has sentenced Umar Hussaini, a private lawyer to the late Comptroller General, Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Abdullahi Dikko, to seven years imprisonment with an option of fine.
In a judgment delivered on Wednesday, March 29, the court found Hussaini guilty of the two-count charge preferred against him by the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC). In the charge marked: FHC/ABJ/CR/74/2020 and filed by the ICPC on behalf of the Federal Government, Hussaini, who was the sole defendant, was charged with laundering the NCS funds to the tune of N1.1 billion. After Justice Ojukwu convicted Hussaini, two witnesses, one of whom was a legal practitioner, Mr Amobi Nzelu, testified about Hussaini’s good character, while praying the court for a leniency.
They begged the court to give the sentencing with an option of fine. The convict, who was said to have four wives with children and aging parents, was said to be the bread winner of the family. He also begged the court to temper justice with mercy and sentence him with an option of fine. He said he had never cheated anyone or committed any crime before and that the responsibility of discipline and catering for the children was on him.
Naziru Umar, the convict’s lawyer, broke into tears while pleading on behalf of his client for mercy. Umar also prayed that the sentencing should be with an option of fine in accordance with the provisions of Section 6(c)(1)(2) of the FHC Corruption and Other Related Offences Sentencing Guidelines and Practice Direction, 2015.
ICPC Lawyer, Olubunmi Ikupolati, who drew the attention of the court to Section 11 of the AFF Act, 2006, urged the court to convict him with restitution of the funds stolen. But Umar urged the court to discountenance Ikupolati’s application, saying such request would amount to double jeopardy since his client was also facing a civil matter before the FCT High Court.
Ikupolati urged the court to uphold his argument. He said the issue of double jeopardy did not arise here since there was no existing judgment on the matter.
Delivering the judgment, Justice Ojukwu handed down seven-year jail term on each count of the charge with an option of fine of N50 million each on each of the two counts. The judge, however, ordered that the sentencing would run concurrently. Ojukwu equally ordered Hussaini to pay the sum of N100 million as compensation to the victims of the crime, Mr Yemi Obadeyi and the company, Cambial Limited.
She ordered the convict to be remanded in prison pending the fulfilment of the terms of fine.