The Accountant of the Federal College of Education, Eha-Amufu, Emmanuel Sombo has been sentenced to 304 years imprisonment for fraud by an Enugu State High Court.
The suspect was convicted after a trial that lasted about 12 years, having commenced in 2010.
He pleaded not guilty to the 61 count charges proffered on him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Sombo was alleged to have on several occasions forged signatures of principal officers of the institution on promissory notes with which he cashed amounts running into N34 million from the college' First Bank account for his personal use.
The principal officers including the Provost, the Registrar and the Bursar denied signing the cheques with which the accused withdrew the monies.
Findings by EFCC forensic experts who took samples of the principal officers' signatures confirmed that the ones on the cheques used in the transactions were forged.
Delivering judgement on the matter, Justice Kenneth Okpe ruled that from the totality of the facts of the case, the court had no difficulty arriving at the conclusion that the accused person personally forged the signatures on the disputed cheques or was assisted to forge the documents.
"The court is satisfied that the circumstantial evidence placed before it is cogent, compelling and points irresistibly to the fact that the accused person committed the offence of forging the disputed cheques.
"He acted alone and is still alone as he could not call even one witness from the college to support his defence.
"These elements of the offence are present in the instant case and I therefore hold that the prosecution has proved all the ingredients of the offense of forgery beyond reasonable doubt and accordingly I find the accused guilty of forgery as charged in counts 32 to 61.
"All the elements of stealing are present in this case.
"The accused person in his statement to the EFCC said he knew that the disputed cheques were fraudulently issued but he was asked by his Boss to play along.
"He cashed the cheques, disbursed the proceeds in a manner that permanently deprived the Federal college of Education Eha-Amufu of the ownership of the money.
"I therefore also find the accused person guilty of the offence of stealing as charged in counts 1 to 31."
Prior to sentencing, the defence counsel, Gabriel Ibu, pleaded for leniency as the accused person is the breadwinner of his family.
"He has a wife and three children and his absence will affect their education.
"We urge the court to be lenient as the punishment which should serve as deterrent will serve its purpose and not destroy the young man."
Counsel to the prosecution however urged the court to ensure that justice is served, adding that the accused should be made to restitute the amount he had stolen from the school.
After listening to the parties, the judge read the judgement thus: "I will therefore sentence the accused person, Emmanuel Sombo to 7 years imprisonment for each of the offence of stealing in counts 1 to 31 in the Amended information, 217 years.
"I also sentence him to 3 years imprisonment for each of the offenses of forgery in counts 32 to 61 of the Amended Information, 87 years.
"However, the entire sentences are to run concurrently with effect from today. This is my judgement in this case."
Lasaco Assurance Plc was incorporated on 20th December 1979 under the Companies ...LEARN MORE
FBN Holdings Plc. is a non-operating financial holding company of one of the lar...LEARN MORE