A good governance, human rights and social justice advocacy group, Youth Advocates for Peace Justice and Empowerment Network (YAPJEN), has lambasted the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Nigeria Prison Service over the horse trading on which government agencies should ensure that the convicted former Assistant Director in the Federal Civil Service, Yakubu John Yusuf, is serving his jail term in the nation's prison.
In a press release made available to newsmen in Awka, the Anambra State capital, the Chairman, board of trustees of YAPJEN, Ambassador Timothy Nwachukwu, slammed the EFCC and NPS for setting a negative precedent and a show of shame, which is an attestation to the lack of seriousness of the anti-graft agencies in the fight against corruption and corrupt elements in the country.
According to the Model United Nations envoy, “It is appalling that Yakubu John Yusuf, who was convicted of corruption and sentenced to jail by a Federal High Court and his conviction upheld by a court of appeal is nowhere near prison one year after his conviction.”
The conviction, five years ago, of John Yusuf, the pension thief, triggered national outrage after he was given a slap on the wrist by Justice Abubakar Talba of the Federal Capital Territory High Court who sentenced him to two years in jail, with the option of paying a fine of N750,000 for stealing N32.8 billion police pension money.
In an appeal brought by EFCC, the Court of Appeal held that the sentence of the trial court did not serve as deterrent to the convict and others and, therefore, ruled that the sentence was “hereby quashed and deserves to be reviewed as follows: on Count 17, the respondent is hereby sentenced to two years imprisonment with an addition of fine of N20billion; on Count 18, the respondent is hereby sentenced to two years imprisonment with an addition of fine of N1.4 billion; and on Count 19, the respondent is hereby sentenced to two years imprisonment with an addition of fine of N1.5 billion.”
The Appeal Court ordered that the sentences were to run concurrently and the fine was to be cumulative.
“It is regrettable that over one year after the judgment of the Court of Appeal, the convict is yet to begin serving his prison term as the two Federal Government agencies are currently at a loggerheads over whose function it is to execute the judgment,” YAPJEN said.
While the spokesman of the Nigerian Prisons Service (NPS), Francis Enobore, was quoted to have said that it was the duty of the prosecuting agency, with powers of arrest, to ensure that a person against whom it secured conviction and sentence is delivered to the prison authorities, along with the decision of the court, the EFCC spokesman, Tony Orilade, stated: “If there is any question(s) on the whereabouts of the convict, it should not be directed at the EFCC but the relevant agency that should take custody of Yusuf.”
YAPJEN however stated that the recent developments as to the whereabouts of the convict is a bad omen for the two federal agencies which have turned Nigeria into laughing stock where those who have connections in high places can commit crime and go away with it while the poor and voiceless are made to suffer and rot in jail l for lesser offences.
The group therefore demanded that President Muhammadu Buhari redeems the image of his administration by proving to Nigerians that his government is not paying lip service to the fight against corruption by ensuring that those behind the lame excuse of letting the pension thief off the hook are brought to book.