Court Sentences Enugu College Accountant to 304 Years in Prison For ₦34.9m Theft

Justice Kenneth Okpe of the Enugu State High Court on Tuesday sentenced one Emmanuel Sombo, an accountant with the Federal College of Education, Eha-Amufu, to 304 years in prison for theft of N34.9 million belonging to the college.
Sombo was arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on a 61-count charge of fraud and other allied crimes.
The commission accused the convict of forging the signatures of the institution’s principal officers on promissory notes to cash monies running into N34 million from the college’ First Bank account for his personal use.
The principal officers including the college’s Provost, the Registrar and the Bursar denied signing the cheques with which the accused withdrew the funds.
The EFCC forensic experts who took samples of the principal officers’ signatures confirmed that the ones on the cheques used for the transactions were forged.
In his judgement, Justice Okpe said based on the weight of evidence before the court, the court had no doubt that the accused personally forged the signatures on the disputed cheques or was assisted to forge the documents.
He said: “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 offence 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 and 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.
“I will therefore sentence the accused person, Emmanuel Sombo to seven years imprisonment for each of the offences of stealing in counts 1 to 31 in the Amended information, 217 years.
“I also sentence him to three years imprisonment for each of the offences 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.”

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