By Yemi Oyeyemi, Abuja.
The Supreme Court on Wednesday in Abuja affirmed the six years imprisonment imposed on a former Federal Director of Pensions (FDP) Mr John Yakubu Yusuf for misappropriating N22.9B police pension fund.
The apex court apart from affirming the six years sentence also ordered him to refund the N22.9B to the federal government coffers.
Justice Tijjani Abubakar, in his judgment, in an appeal filed by Yusuf upheld the decision of the Court of Appeal which in 2018 sentenced him to six years imprisonment, in addition to ordering him to refund the huge sum.
The apex court held that Yusuf and others engaging in fraudulent practices must be told in clear language through court judgments that it is no longer business as usual.
Justice Abubakar said that the appeal of the former federal pension director seeking to set aside the six years jail term against him was frivolous, vexatious and devoid of merit.
He further held that victims of the convicted director deserved restitution which can only be achieved through justice.
The Supreme Court in the unanimous judgment held that the judgment of the Federal Capital Territory High Court which in 2016 sentenced Yusuf to two years imprisonment with an option of N750, 000 was a slap on the wrist.
Justice Abubakar said that the plea bargain at the high court and ruling of the Judge on it was not only bizarre, and embarrassing but ridiculous and unacceptable.
The apex court said that the sentence at the high court was meagre, insufficient and ridiculous in view of the huge negative impacts the fraudulent action of the convict must have caused the pensioners.
Justice Abubakar adopted the judgment of the Court of Appeal which imposed six years jail term on the former pension director and also directed him to make a refund of N22.9B to the federal government.
“I have carefully perused the case of the appellant (Yusuf). I found it to be frivolous, vexatious and devoid of merit.
“I make an order dismissing the appeal and affirming the findings and conclusion of the court below”, the Supreme Court Justice said.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission EFCC had arraigned Yusuf before FCT High Court in 2016 where he admitted committing the fraud and subsequently entered into a plea bargain with the anti-graft agency.
Justice Abubakar Talba of the FCT high court had upon the plea bargain. sentenced the former director to two years imprisonment with an option of N750,000 fine which he promptly paid and escaped imprisonment.
Irked by the sentence considered to be too ridiculous, EFCC had challenged the decision at the Court of Appeal in Abuja.
The Court of Appeal in its judgment of 2018 quashed the plea bargain, sentenced the former director to six years imprisonment without option of fine and also ordered him to refund the N22.9 billion naira to the covers of the federal government.
Not satisfied with the Court of Appeal decision, Yusuf approached the Supreme Court, challenging the Court of Appeal judgment on the ground of gross mis-carriage of justice .
He asked the apex court to overturn the six years imprisonment and the refund order against him.But in his appeal lodged with the Supreme Court, Yusuf had prayed the apex court to set aside his conviction and the order that he should refund N22.9B.