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Former Nigerian varsity VC bags 35 years jail term over N260m fraud

A former Vice Chancellor of the Federal University Gusau, Zamfara State capital, Prof. Magaji Garba has been sentenced to 35 years imprisonment over offences bordering on obtaining money by false pretence to the tune of N260m and alleged forgery.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Thursday, December 1, 2022, secured Garba’s conviction at the Federal Capital Territory High Court, Garki, Abuja, after he was found guilty of a five-count charge by Justice Maryam Hassan Aliyu.

The former VC was arraigned by the EFCC on October 12, 2021, for allegedly extorting various sums from a contractor on the pretext of awarding him a N3 billion contract for the perimeter wall fencing of the University.

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The offence is contrary to section 1 (1) (a) and punishable under section 1 (3) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act, 2006.

Count two of the charge reads: “That you, Professor Magaji Garba, whilst being the Vice Chancellor, Federal University, Gusau on or about the 15th of May, 2019 in Abuja within the jurisdiction of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory Abuja with intent to defraud obtained the sum of N100,000,000 (One Hundred Million Naira) from Alhaji Shehu Umar Sambo, Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Ministaco Nigeria Limited, a contractor executing the construction of the Grand Convocation Square of the Federal University, Gusau under the false pretence of awarding a project for the perimeter wall fencing of the University valued at the total sum of N3,000,000,000.00 (Three Billion Naira) which representation/pretense you knew to be false”.

Count three reads: “That you, Professor Magji Garba, whilst being the Vice Chancellor, Federal University, Gusau on or about the 1st August, 2019 in Abuja within the jurisdiction of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja with intent to defraud obtained the sum of N150,000,000.00 (One Hundred and fifty Million Naira from Alhaji Shehu Umar Sambo, Managing Director/Chief Executive officer of Ministaco Nigeria Limited, a contract executing the construction of the Grand Convocation Square at the Federal University, Gusau under the false presence of awarding a project for the perimeter wall fencing of the University valued at the total sum of N3,000,000,000.00 (Three Billion Naira), which representation/ pretense you knew to be false”.

He had pleaded “not guilty” to the charges, thereby setting the stage for his full trial. After calling witnesses and tendering so many documents, which were admitted in evidence, the EFCC closed its case on December 14, 2021.

Delivering judgment today, the trial judge said the court was satisfied that the prosecution proved its case beyond reasonable doubt.

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Prof Garba was pronounced “guilty” on the five counts, and sentenced to seven years each on counts 1 to 3 without option of fine and seven years imprisonment on counts 4 and 5, with option of N10 million fine each.

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