2 bankers share 18 years’ jail over N8bn theft

Ibadan, March 22, 2017 (TNE): Justice Joyce Abdulmaleek of the Federal High Court, Ibadan,  on Wednesday sentenced two bankers, Philip Togun  and Esther Afolabi,  to nine years imprisonment each  for conspiracy and participating in the stealing of N8 billion at the Ibadan branch of  the Central Bank of Nigeria.
Abdulmaleek had adopted the plea bargain agreement entered into by Afolabi and Togun with the EFCC and the guilty plea of the convicts,  as basis for her judgment.
“I hereby  convict the fourth accused person, Philip Togun, for counts 15, 17 and 19 respectively.
“I also convict the fifth accused person, Esther Afolabi,  for counts 16, 18 and 19 respectively.
“Togun is sentenced to three years in prison for each of the three count charges, to commence from Jan.  1, 2016.
“The convict shall forfeit to the Federal Government of Nigeria the following assets found in his possession: a building located in Ibadan and the money in the two bank accounts operated by the convict.
“Afolabi is also sentenced to three years imprisonment for each of the three charges, commencing from January 1, 2016.
“The convict shall forfeit the following assets which are the proceeds of the crime to the Federal Government of Nigeria: five bedroom duplex, a filling station, the entire sum of money scattered across seven different bank accounts in Nigeria,” the judge said.
Abdulmaleek said  the sentences would run concurrently.
The two defence counsel, Mr Olalekan Ojo,  and Mr Adewole Olajire, however,  expressed dismay at the verdict.
Ojo and Olajire,  in their separate submissions,  said the judge  did not consider the date of arrest of the convicts.
They also argued that the judge did not give full consideration to the plea bargain process between the two convicts and the  EFCC.
Shortly before the judgment was delivered, the duo had prayed the court to temper justice with mercy in sentencing the former bankers.
Togun, a former Treasury Assistant at Ibadan branch of  CBN  and Esther Afolabi, a former employee of  WEMA Bank,  had  been standing trial along with others since 2015, on charges bordering on conspiracy, conversion, forgery, recirculation of mutilated currency and stealing of N8 billion at the  Ibadan branch of CBN.
The other accused persons  are Kolawole Babalola, Muniru Olaniran, Festus Adeyemi, Yusuf Fatai,  Olukunle Sijuwade, Emanueal Ordia and Patient Okoro.
Two other persons, Ademola Oni and Tope Akintade, had earlier opted for plea bargain arrangement  and were  sentenced upon fulfilment of the terms of  the bargain. (TNE)
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