EFCC arraigns ex-NEMA director, John Umesi, over N54.5m fraud

John Emenike Umesi, a former director at NEMA has been arraigned by EFCC
John Emenike Umesi, a former director at NEMA has been arraigned by EFCC

EFCC on February 13, 2018 arraigned a former acting Director, Special Duties, of the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, Umesi Emenike John, for offences bordering on misappropriation and diversion of funds to the tune of N54.5 million.

Umesi, who served as Zonal Coordinator of the South-South, and Deputy Director, Training, is alleged to have used his position, to divert funds meant for programmes, and maintenance of the zone.

He was brought before Justice Jude Okeke of a Federal Capital Territory, FCT High Court, Maitama, and is facing a four-count charge.

One of the counts reads: “That you, Umesi Emenike John, while being a public servant in the employment of the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, and serving as a Deputy Director in charge of South-South Zone of NEMA on or about the 14th day of October 2013, at Abuja within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court while being entrusted with dominion over money to wit, the sum of N16,152,000 (Sixteen Million, One Hundred and Fifty Two Thousand Naira) only belonging to NEMA dishonestly converted to your own use and thereby committed an offence contrary to section 315 of the Penal Code Cap 532 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria (Abuja) 1990 and punishable under the same Section.”

He pleaded “not guilty” to the charges.

In view of his plea, prosecuting counsel, Deborah Eteh, asked the court to remand the defendant in prison, pending determination of the matter.

Defence counsel, Aduojo Aba, however brought a motion on notice dated February 12, 2019, pursuant to Section 158 and 162 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015, and Section 36(5)(6) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and prayed the court to admit Umesi to bail pending the determination of the matter.

“The defendant has been on administrative bail, and so I urge the court in the interest of justice to grant him bail, so that he can attend to his trial,” Aba said.

While noting that granting or refusing of bail was at the discretion of the court, Eteh, urged the court to exercise it “judiciously and judicially”.

“I urge the court to take into consideration the severity of the punishment of the offence for which the defendant is standing trial, and which if convicted, is seven years,” Eteh added.

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After listening to the arguments, Justice Okeke granted Umesi bail, noting that “the defence has placed sufficient materials before the court to exercise its discretion in favour of the defence.”

He was granted bail in the sum of N50 million with one surety in like sum, who must be resident within the jurisdiction of the court, and must be a holder of title documents of landed properties in Abuja, with evidence of tax payment for three years.

Umesi was ordered to be remanded in EFCC custody, pending the fulfilment of the bail conditions.

The case has been adjourned to March 15, 2019 for “commencement of trial”.

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