A former Federal Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Labour and Productivity, Clement Illoh Onubuogo, has been sentenced to five years in jail over N14.1m SURE-P fraud.
The sentence was passed by Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo of the Special Offences Court sitting, in Ikeja, Lagos.
Onubuogo was docked by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on a three-count charge bordering on stealing by conversion of property to the tune N14,176,000.00.
The former permanent secretary, who was responsible for supervising numerous programmes such as the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme (SURE-P), allegedly awarded fictitious contracts to himself, using his personal company and friends.
The prosecution counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, while adopting his final his written address in June , told the court that the defendant had committed an offence contrary to Sections 279 (1), (b) and 285 (6) of the Criminal Law of Lagos State 2011 and, therefore, must face the justice.
Oyedepo also submitted that “for the fact that the defendant unlawfully transferred public funds to his private account or to another party’s account that had nothing to transact with the government constituted the of offence of stealing, money laundering and conversion.”
Oyedepo further told the court that the defendant wanted to cover the trail of the funds by moving the funds to Clement and Bob Associates, belonging to him, but that EFCC’s investigations revealed the concealment of the funds.
“The intention to conceal was clearly manifested in the movement of the funds to the defendant’s private company and this shows a clear proof of stealing and money laundering,” he added.
Oyedepo, therefore, urged the court to sentence the defendant according to the law, adding that the prosecution had proved its case beyond reasonable doubt.
“I urge your lordship to carefully look at the oral and documentary evidences and, I say vehemently that there is no material contradiction in the case of the prosecution that will sway my lordship to discharging the defendant,” Oyedepo told the court.
In his final written address, the defence counsel, U. Onwukwe, urged the court to dismiss the charge filed against Illoh by the EFCC.
The defence counsel also told the court that the prosecution could not prove its case beyond reasonable doubt, adding that “the entire charge was built on the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) because the agency was the source of the money.
“It was a grant given by the Maritime Legal Department of NIMASA to the Ministry of Labour,” Onwukwe said.
Justice Taiwo, after listening to both parties, adjourned the case till September 24, 2019 for judgment.
But the judgment day was later shifted till today.
Onubuogo last year January forfeited N664million and $137,680.11 to the Federal Government in another case filed against him by the EFCC.
The forfeiture order was given by Justice Saliu Saidu of the Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos.