An Enugu State High Court presided over by Justice Kenneth Okpe has sentenced an accountant with the Federal College of Education, Eha-Amufu, Emmanuel Sombo, to 304 years imprisonment for forgery and stealing the sum of N34. 9 million from the account of the college.
Sombo, who was convicted last Thursday after a long trial which started in 2010, had pleaded not guilty to the 61 count charges brought against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, in suit No E/56C/2010.
He was alleged to have on several occasions forged the signatures of principal officers of the institution on promissory notes with which he cashed monies running into N34 million from the college’ First Bank account for his personal use.
The principal officers including the Provost, the Registrar and the Bursar denied signing the cheques with which the accused withdrew the monies.
The EFCC forensic experts who took samples of the principal officers’ signatures confirmed that the ones on the cheques used in the transactions were forged.
Delivering judgment on the matter, Justice Kenneth Okpe said they based on the weight of evidence before the court, the court had no difficulty in concluding that the accused person personally forged the signatures on the disputed cheques or was assisted to forge the documents.
“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 7 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 3 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 judgment in this case,” the judge ruled. (Courtesy, excluding headline, Vanguard)