The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), on Tuesday, October 27, 2015 secured the conviction of Alhaji Uba Mohammed on two count charges bordering on criminal breach of trust and fraud before Justice Salisu Garba of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Maitama, Abuja. However, the prosecution and judgment were done in the absence of the convict who eloped on being granted bail at eh inchoate stage of the suit.
A statement by Wilson Uwujaren, EFCC Head of Media and Publicity revealed that Mohammed was entrusted with the authority to collect rent on a property situated at Plot 1143 Asokoro District of the FCT, Abuja, by Zaibadari Company Limited from the “Office of the Presidential Committee on Dairy Production” to the tune of N10 million. The accused, upon collection of the said sum converted same to personal use and disappeared into thin air. Mohammed was arraigned on October 13, 2009, and pleaded not guilty to the charge preferred against him.
One of the charges reads: “That you, Alhaji Uba Mohammed, on or about the 5th day of August 2006, at Abuja in the Abuja Judicial Division of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, being entrusted with the authority to collect the rent of a property situated at Plot 1143 Asokoro District of the FCT, Abuja by Zaibadari Company Limited from the “Office of the Presidential Committee on Dairy Production” did commit criminal breach of trust by converting the sum of N5,000,000 (Five million naira only) to your own use, being the advance rent to one year payable to Zaibadari Company Limited and thereby committed an offence contrary to section 312 of the Penal Code Act, Cap, 532 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria (Abuja) 1990”.
In the course of trial, the prosecution called two witnesses, tendered documents and closed its case on February 15, 2010, setting the stage for the defense to open its case.
However, the accused had since then remained elusive. Having suffered several adjournments, and in its bid to bring the accused to justice, counsel to EFCC, T.N Ndifon, invoked the provisions of Section 352 (4) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 which states that: “Where the court, in exercise of its discretion, has granted bail to the defendant and the defendant, in disregard for the court orders, fail to surrender to the order of court or fails to attend court without reasonable explanation, the court shall continue with the trial in his absence and convict him unless the court sees reasons otherwise, provided that proceedings in the absence of the defendant shall take place after two adjournments or as the court may deem fit.”
Justice Garba, after due consideration of the arguments of the counsel, opined that the prosecution had proved its case beyond reasonable doubts. Consequently, the judge found Mohammed guilty on the two counts of criminal breach of trust and fraud preferred against him. Relying on Section 352 (5) of the Administration of the Criminal Justice Act, Justice Garba deferred the sentencing of the accused pending the time he is caught.