Justice sentences ex-PS to one year of community service

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The Federal High Court, sitting in Abuja, sentenced a former permanent secretary in the Home Ministry, Anastasia Daniel-Nwobia, to one year of community service.

Daniel-Nwobia, who was sentenced on April 7, was convicted for her role in the Nigeria Immigration Service’s botched March 15, 2014 recruitment tragedy, where around 15 job seekers died in a stampede.

Judge Nnamdi Dimgba, who handed down the sentence, also ruled that Daniel-Nwobia would forfeit 50% of his contributory pension for the next five years to the Federal Government (FG).

The judge also ordered that the convict not hold public office for the next five years, except as a consultant.

He decided that her travel passport would be retained by the court as she was not to travel outside of Nigeria for the next five years without permission from the court.

The court ruled that the convict must choose one of four institutions to teach a course on compliance during an academic session.

These are the Nigeria Immigration Training School, the Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Institute, the Public Service Institute or the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies.

“She should confer with the institute on how to proceed where the course is available and if it is not available, she should design one on her own,” the judge said.

Judge Dimgba said that rather than using the Public Procurement Act to convict Daniel-Nwobia, he opted to use the Criminal Justice Administration Act (ACJA).

The ACJA provides for a minimum custodial sentence of five years for the offence, he said.

He explained that he chose to use the ACJA because, unlike the rigidity of the Public Procurement Act, it was flexible and provided leeway for an alternative sentence.

He also said he was willing to listen to the plea for clemency from the convict and her lawyer on the grounds that she had not been found to have profited from the offence.

The judge also said he found that Daniel-Nwobia had chosen the mode of recruitment used in 2014 for the botched exercise to save money for the government.

He found that the convict had also acted on the recommendation of the department’s director of procurement at the time and questioned why that director had not been charged or called to testify in the case.

Before Judge Dimgba handed down the sentence, the convict pleaded with the court to temper justice with leniency.

“I beg my lord to temper justice with mercy and condemn me as directed by the spirit,” she said.

His friend of about 40 years, Fatima Hassan, was also allowed to speak about the character and the person of the condemned.

Hassan, former chief executive of the Federal Housing Authority Mortgage Bank and chief executive of the National Center for Women Development, described Daniel-Nwobia as a dedicated public servant.

“She worked with integrity and ensured that every process was properly documented for posterity and she built trust in the system,” Hassan said.

Prosecution attorney Samuel Chime also told the court that Daniel-Nwobia was a first-time offender because she had no criminal history.

The EFCC indicted Daniel-Nwobia, Abba Moro and others on an 11-count charge bordering on obtaining by false pretense, procurement fraud and money laundering .

They were prosecuted over the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) botched recruitment scandal in 2014.

While Moro and others were released and acquitted, Daniel-Nwobia was found guilty on one count.

Count four, for which she was convicted, verges on being awarded an NIS online recruitment contract without seeking approval from the Office of Public Procurement.

This, according to the prosecution, was contrary to Article 40 of the Public Procurement Law No. 65 of 2007 and punishable under Article 58 of the same law.

The retired PS was found guilty of the fourth charge, which the court ruled carried a five-year prison term without the possibility of a fine.


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