The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on May, 23, 2022, secured the conviction of a former member of the House of Representatives, Chief Chuma Nzeribe before Justice Yusuf Y. Halilu of the Federal Capital Territory High Court, Maitama. Abuja.
Nzeribe 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.
Count one of the charge reads; “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”.
Another count reads; “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”.
He pleaded not guilty when the charges were read to him, setting the stage for his full trial.
In the course of the trial, 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 allegedly 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 on Monday May 23, delivered judgment 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.
Halilu wondered why a man who rose to become a member of the House of Representatives could not register the title document to the said land he claimed he brought from someone, knowing that was in his best interest.
Justice Halilu however deferred the sentencing of the defendant until the EFCC or the Inspector General of Police apprehend and bring him to court, in compliance with Section 321 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015, Section 11of the Advance Fee Fraud Act and Other Related Offences Act 2006, and Section 78 of the Penal Code Act