Law & Judiciary

Court Acquits ex- Abia Finance Commissioner of Graft

...Orders Co-Defendants to N550 million to Abia Govt

By Onyebuchi Sampson

An Abia State High Court sitting in Umuahia has acquitted and discharged the former State Commissioner of finance and serving Provost of the state College of Education (Technical) Arochukwu, Dr, Phillips Nto from the three corruption charges levelled against him by the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC).

The Federal Government had named the former commissioner, Consolidated Business Network Ltd and its Managing Director, Mr Ikechukwu Onu as first, second and third respondents in suit marked HU/2C/2017.

But in his judgment on Friday, Justice Thompson Adiele ruled that the prosecution failed to prove its case against Dr Nto.

The court, however, ordered the 2nd and 3rd defendants to within 30 days after the judgment, pay back to the state government the sum of N550 million to make up the N700 million excess bank charges, collected from Keystone bank for the state government.

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The court also declared that it was wrong for them to have collected N700 million from the bank and paid only N150 million to the state government in the name of commission.

The court further declared that Nto was not guilty of count two, which bordered on conspiracy to confer undue corrupt advantage on an associate, because it was not proved that the 2nd and 3rd defendants were his (Nto’s) associates.

Similarly, on the 3rd count bordering on making false statement on the amount recovered from the bank when Nto held office, the court held that Nto was not guilty because the signatures on the contentious documents were forged.

Reacting to the judgment, Nto said his vindication has again proved that the court is the last hope of the common man.

He consequently demanded an unreserved apology from the ICPC within 48 hours to be published in two national dailies for tarnishing his image during the years that the case lasted in the court, lamenting that despite his service to the state , some people colluded with ICPC to mar his reputation.

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