A lawyer, Gideon Ngwen, who converted the judgement debt paid to his client into personal use, has been arraigned by the Gombe zonal command of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
This brings to light the old proverb of a dog, who ate the meat he was asked to protect from devourers.
EFCC arraigned Ngwen on Monday, October 11, before Justice C. L. Dabup of Plateau State High Court, Jos, on a three count charge bordering on criminal breach of trust and misappropriation.
He allegedly converted the judgment debt paid into his account on behalf of his clients, about 100 staff of Plateau State Radio Television Corporation (PRTVC) whose employment was unlawfully terminated by the Plateau State Government, to personal use.
A statement issued by the EFCC Spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren, said the workers had sometimes in 2014 and 2016 respectively instituted a suit at the National Industrial Court, Jos Division in Suit No. NICN/JOS/25/2014 and NICN/JOS/28/2016 against the Plateau State government for unlawful termination of their employment whereupon the defendant took up their case pro bono.
According to him, his client, the about 100 staff of PRTVC, stated that during the course of the trial, parties entered into a consent judgement and it was agreed that the sum of One Hundred and Eighty One Million, Eight Hundred and Ninety Thousand, Four Hundred and Two Naira and Sixty Six Kobo be paid to all 100 staff through the account of the defendant domiciled in United Bank for Africa.
Continuing, the anti-graft agency image maker said they further alleged that to their dismay, they discovered that the sum of N107, 000, 000. 00 (One Hundred and Seven Million Naira) which has been paid into the defendant’s United Bank for Africa Bank account, had been converted by him for personal use.
Count one of the charge reads:“That you, Gideon Ngwen (trading under the name and style of Gideon Ngwen & Co.) between 21st September, 2017 and 8th July, 2018 at Jos, Plateau State within the Jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, converted to your own use the sum of N67, 540, 129. 57 (Sixty Seven Million, Five Hundred and Forty Thousand, One Hundred and Twenty Nine Naira, Fifty Seven Kobo) which was entrusted to you by the Plateau State Government as payment of arrears of salaries to David Musa Ayiki and 99 other staff of Plateau State Radio Television Corporation (PRTVC).”
The lawyer, Uwujaren disclosed, pleaded not guilty to the charges.
In view of his plea, the prosecution counsel, M. O. Tijani asked for a date for trial to commence.
The defendant who opted to stand for himself, did not object, “I have no objection to the prosecution counsel applying for a trial date, I have application for bail before the court and I have also served the complainant,” he said.
Justice Dabup granted the defendant bail with the condition that a member of the executive of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA must write letter of undertaking to produce him in court anytime for trial.
The matter was adjourned till November 3, 2021 for hearing.