A former Permanent Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Labour and Productivity, Clement Illoh, was on Thursday sentenced to five years in prison over N14.1 million Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme (SURE-P) fraud.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo of an Ikeja Special Offences Court passed sentence after convicting Illoh on a count of stealing by conversion of public property.
The judge also ordered forfeiture of the stolen N14 million SURE-P fund by the convict into the coffers of the Federal Government.
“It is unfortunate that a senior officer found himself in this predicament. A public officer has no right to steal from public funds.
“I, therefore, sentence the defendant to five years imprisonment without an option of fine. “He should serve his sentence at the Ikoyi Prisons,” she said.
The lead prosecuting counsel for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr Rotimi Oyedepo, had urged the court to sentence Illoh to seven years in prison.
“Each of the two charges stipulates a sentence of three years in prison. I urge the court to sentence the defendant to seven years in prison according to Section 280 of the Criminal Law,” Oyedepo said.
Responding to Oyedepo’s submission, Justice Taiwo said: “The court is of the discretion as regards sentencing.
“Therefore, the court has the discretion of reducing the sentence from seven years to five years.
“The sum of N3.5 million withdrawn by the defendant and the N10.5 million recovered by the EFCC shall be refunded into the Consolidated Revenue Fund Account of the Federation.”
NAN reports that the convict was arraigned on October 16, 2017, by the EFCC on a three-count charge bordering on stealing by conversion of the property to the tune of N14.1 million.
The anti-graft agency closed its case against the convict on May 16, last year, with four prosecution witnesses testifying.
Two witnesses, including Illoh, testified for the defence.
According to the anti-graft agency, Illoh was responsible for supervising numerous programmes, including the SURE-P, during which he awarded fictitious contracts to himself via his company and friends.
The convict was said to have diverted SURE-P funds sourced from the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).
The offences contravene sections 279 (1), (b) and 285 (6) of the Criminal Law of Lagos State 2011.