A former Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Labour and Productivity, Clement Illoh, was on Thursday convicted and sentenced to 12 years in prison, by Justice Babs Kuewumi of the Federal High Court, sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission prosecuted Illoh on a three-count bordering on non-declaration of assets to the tune of N97.3m.
At Thursday’s proceedings, the prosecution counsel, during the cross-examination of the defendant, revealed that Illoh received funds to the tune of N65 million from SURE-P project contractors, which was domiciled in his First Bank Account No:3033750243.
The defence counsel, T.S. Awana, sought the court’s permission to confer with his client in the proceedings.
After that, the defendant applied to change his not guilty plea through his counsel.
Justice Kuewunmi granted the application and Illoh pleaded guilty, according to a statement by the EFCC spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren.
Delivering judgment, Justice Kuewumi stated, “I have given due attention to the allocutus of the defendant. However, the court will not fail to perform its duty in accordance with the provisions of the law.
“Consequently, the defendant is hereby sentenced to four years on each of the counts, and the same shall run concurrently from October 10 2019.”
The judge also ordered the forfeiture of N97,300,613.44, $139,575.50, and £10,121.52, respectively, to the Federal Government, being proceeds of unlawful activities.
The EFCC had, on October 3, 2019, secured the conviction and sentencing of Illoh to five years imprisonment over N14.1m fraud before Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo of the Ikeja Special Offences Court sitting in Ikeja, Lagos.
Meanwhile, the Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, Prof Bolaji Owasanoye, SAN, has underscored the benefits of non-conviction-based asset recovery in the fight against corruption, citing it as a potent tool for “denial of the fruits of wrong-doing as well as recovery of illicit wealth.”
According to him, non-conviction-based asset forfeiture would deny corrupt persons the use of whatever they had stolen from the public coffers.
The ICPC boss made this known at the ongoing 12th Commonwealth Regional Conference for heads of anti-corruption agencies in Africa at the Kigali Serena Hotel, Kigali, Rwanda.
The conference’s theme is ‘Combating Corruption for Good Governance and Sustainable Development in Africa.’
In his presentation titled, “The Effects of Non-Conviction Based Asset Recovery in Fighting Corruption”, he advised that civil forfeiture was a viable alternative to criminal forfeiture.
He stated, “The anti-corruption agencies need to improve capacity in investigations, especially asset tracing to ensure maximum impact of non-conviction based asset forfeiture.
“Serious efforts should be made to address the dysfunction in the criminal justice system while improved public education is required on the utility of civil forfeiture to anti-corruption efforts.”