Maritime Academy Staff Bags 110 Years in Uyo Over N22m Contract Fraud
The Uyo Zonal Command of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on Friday, January 27, 2023, secured the conviction and sentencing of one Charles Emmanuel Afaha, a former staff of Maritime Academy of Nigeria, Oron, before Justice Agatha Okeke of the Federal High Court sitting in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.
The convict was arraigned on October 13, 2018 on an eleven-count charge bordering on forgery and he pleaded “not guilty”, setting the stage for the prosecution to prove its case. The prosecution, through its counsel, T. N. Ndifon called five witnesses and tendered several exhibits which were admitted in evidence.
Delivering judgment today via Zoom, Justice Okeke said that “the prosecution proved beyond reasonable doubt the offence of forgery against the defendant in all the counts.
Before the sentencing was given by the court, S. S. Aribido, who held the brief of T. N. Ndifon, made an application to the Court, praying the Court to order that Afaha restitute the sum of N22, 848, 450. 00 to the Maritime Academy of Nigeria, Oron. However, Mfon Ben, the defence counsel, prayed the court “to exercise mercy in sentencing him”.
Afaha was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment on each count without an option of fine. The sentencing runs concurrently from the date of arrest. The Court also ordered that the convict shall restitute the sum of N22, 848, 450. 00 to the Maritime Academy of Nigeria which will serve as condition for his release upon the completion of his time in prison.
One of the counts on which the defendant was convicted reads: “That you, Charles Emmanuel Afaha “M” on or about the 20th of October, 2016 at Oron, Akwa Ibom State, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court did forge a document to wit: Obinco Enterprises (Nig) receipt No. 0897 dated 20/10/2016, in the sum of N3, 384, 100 (Three Million, Three Hundred and Eighty-four Thousand, One Hundred Naira only), purported to have been issued by Obinco enterprises (Nig), with intent that it may be acted upon as genuine and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 1 (2) (c) of the Miscellaneous Offence Act Cap M, 17 of the Revised Edition (Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004) and punishable under Section 1 (2) (c) of the same Act”.
Afaha was arrested following a petition from the Maritime Academy of Nigeria, Oron, alleging fraud and misappropriation of public funds by the convict.
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Investigation revealed that the convict, who worked in the Procurement Department of the Academy, made several retirements of cash advance and also received huge sums of money from the Maritime Academy of Nigeria, Oron’s account into his personal account for the execution of non-existent projects. These funds were retired by Afaha with several invoice receipts attached to the Retirement of Cash Advance memos, signed by him.
Further investigations also revealed that the said invoice receipts attached to the Retirement of Cash Advance memos by the convict, which amounted to N22, 848, 450. 00 (Twenty-two million, Eight hundred and forty eight thousand, four hundred and fifty naira) were all forged by Afaha.