A Sokoto State High Court has sentenced a staff of the Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA), Anthony Mbanefo, to two years imprisonment.
Mr. Mbanefo, was convicted by Justice Bello Duwale, for embezzling N60 million approved for the repairs of two federal roads in the state.
The FERMA official was dragged to the court by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) for holding a private interest in a Federal Government contract, which led to the diversion of the money.
Mr. Mbanefo was prosecuted on a four-count charge bordering on embezzlement of public funds, actions which violated the provisions of Sections 12 and 19 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000.
During the trial, the ICPC had told the court the crime was committed between September and October 2013, when Mr. Mbanefo, was NERMA’s Senior Technical Officer 1 in the Sokoto office.
He was said to have collected N20 million on three different occasions from contractors handling the road repair projects.
He was said to have collected N40 million from Crest Code Nigeria Limited and N20 million from Dewlands International Limited, the companies handling road projects in the area.
ICPC said the funds were meant for the emergency repairs of Jabo-Kajiji Kummi and Rimawa-Sabon Birni roads, all in Sokoto State.
Part of the charge sheet reads, “That you Anthony Mbanefo, on or about the month of September, 2013 thereabouts whilst being employed in the public service serving as Senior Technical Officer 1, Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA) Abuja knowingly acquired an indirect private interest in a contract for the emergency maintenance repairs between KM. 1+950—KM.3+400 at Jabo along Kajiji Kummi Road, Sokoto State emanating from the Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA), Abuja, the office in which you are employed when you collected the sum of N20 million from Crest Code Nigeria Limited, a company on which the contract was awarded by FERMA for the purpose of executing the said contract on behalf of the said company and you thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under Section 12 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000.
“That you Anthony Mbanefo, on or about the month of October, 2013 thereabouts whilst being a public officer as Senior Technical Officer 1, Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA) Abuja, used your position to confer corrupt advantage upon yourself when you collected the sum of N20 million to execute the contract for the emergency maintenance repairs between KM.183+300—KM.184+400 at Sululu along Rimawa- Sabon Birni, Niger Republic Road, Sokoto State, on behalf of Messrs Dewlands Int. Limited awarded to it by FERMA for a contract sum of N40 million which contract you failed to execute and converted the said sum to your own use and thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under Section 19 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000.”
Before the court ruled on the matter, counsel to FERMA official, Y. Gwazawa, had pleaded for leniency on grounds that his client was a first offender.