A former lawmaker, Chief Chuma Nzeribe has been convicted for fraud in absentia.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on May, 23, 2022, secured the conviction before Justice Yusuf Y. Halilu of the Federal Capital Territory High Court, Maitama. Abuja.
Trouble started for him when he was first arraigned by the EFCC on October 16, 2020 on a four count charge bordering on possession of fraudulent document, forgery, using as genuine and cheating by personation, punishable under section 6, 8(b) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act, 2006 and punishable under section 1 (3) of the same Act.
“That you, Hon. Chuma Nzeribe sometime in March, 2013 at Abuja, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court did have in your possession a document containing false pretence to wit: Re: Application for Statutory Right of Occupancy within the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja with reference Number MFCT/LA/FCT 1302 dated 18/06/03, bearing the name of Ramatu Alhassan and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 6, 8(b) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act, 2006 and punishable under Section 1 (3) of the same Act,” read first count.
Other charge filed by the EFCC read thus, “That you Hon. Chuma Nzeribe sometime in 2005 at Abuja, within the Jurisdiction of this Honourable Court did fraudulently make a false document to wit: Re: Application for Statutory Right of Occupancy within the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja with reference number MFCT/LA/FCT 1302 dated 18/06/03, bearing the name of Ramatu Alhassan and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 363 of the Penal Code Act Cap 532 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria (Abuja) and punishable under Section 364 of the same Act.”
Upon his first arraigment, he pleaded not guilty when the charges were read to him.
The prosecuting counsel, Maryam Aminu Ahmad, presented five witnesses against the defendant.
After the close of the case by the prosecution, the matter was adjourned for judgement. However, the defendant absconded and all efforts to get him proved abortive.
Justice Halilu thereafter revoked the bail of the defendant and issued a bench warrant for his arrest.
As several adjournments and the failure to bring the defendant to court, the trial judge today delivered judgement in which he convicted the defendant in absentia and restituted the nominal complainant, Ishaya Baba, his land situated at Plot 1306 Cadastral Zone A05, Maitama Abuja.
Justice Halilu however deferred the sentencing of the defendant until the EFCC or the Inspector General of Police apprehend and bring him to court.