For defrauding local farmers of N20.81m, former Agric Commissioner bags 19 years jail term


From: Bamidele Fashube, Abuja

ZACHAEUS Atte, former Commissioner for Agriculture in Kogi State has bagged 19 years jail term for stealing N20.81m meant to support local farmers in the state.

The money was particularly targeted at providing Oil Palm Spouted Nuts Seedlings and to support cocoa farmers in Kogi.

The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) on Friday, however accused Atte of committing the offence which it noted was against Section 19 of the ICPC Act.

From 11 counts charge listed against the convict, he was found guilty of seven.

The Kogi State High Court sitting in Okene, presided by Hon. Justice J.J Majebi eventually convicted Atte on the corruption charges.

According to the commission, Atte looted the sum of N11.93 million and N8.87 million respectively.

“The convict who is to serve a total of 19 years jail term, was sentenced to 5 years imprisonment each on counts 1 and 3 without an option of fine, for collecting the sum of =N=11,937,000:00 and =N=8,873,766:85K respectively, being money meant for “the raising and distribution of Oil Palm Sprouted Nuts Seedlings” to cocoa farmers in Kogi State but did not raise nor distribute same. This is an offence contrary to and punishable under Section 19 of the ICPC Act,” it stated in Abuja.

Atte was also sentenced on count two (2) to five years imprisonment without an option of fine, “for receiving the sum of =N=350,000:00 being amount earmarked to defray the transportation costs of the farmers during the cocoa seedlings distribution exercise” but failed to do so.

He also got a year imprisonment each on counts 8 to 11 for “spending from the sum of =N=2,849,953:75K being amount earmarked for the purchase of office equipment on what he called State wide Sensitization Tour; visit to Lagos from Lokoja on issues of Power Tiller; and Video Coverage” contrary to and punishable under section 22(5) of the ICPC Act.

Prior to his judgment, the presiding judge justified the conviction.

He said the ICPC Legal team comprising Late Suberu Enebere Esq., Okey Golden Iwuagu Esq., and Peace Arocha Esq. (Mrs.) had proven its case beyond reasonable doubt.


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