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Nigeria: Former NDDC SA, George Turnah Sentenced to Six Years

N2.9bn Scandal: Jonathan's Godson and Associates Get 6-Year Jail Terms

A Federal High Court, located in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Nigeria has issued convictions and sentenced George Turnah, a former Special Adviser to Dan Abia, the former Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission, along with two others, to six years in prison for fraudulent activities.

Ebis Orubebe and Uzorgor Chidebere, who were sentenced alongside Turnah by Presiding Judge Justice A. T. Mohammed, were also found guilty of money laundering, fund conversion, and forgery, all of which contravene Section 1 (1) (a) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act, 2006. These actions are punishable under Section 1(3) of the same Act.

The defendants were first arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission in May 2017. They faced re-arraignment on January 25, 2021, on 23 counts related to obtaining money under false pretences, money laundering, and abuse of office, involving a total of N2,894,500,000.

This information was relayed in a statement issued on Monday by the EFCC spokesperson, Wilson Uwujaren, and shared with the press.

The statement reported, “They were incarcerated on Thursday, September 7, 2023, following their conviction on charges brought against them by the Port Harcourt Zonal Command of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.”

One of the charges, count six, alleges: ‘that you, George Turnah Alabh, Uzogor Silas Chidiebere, El-Godams Global Services Ltd., Turnoil and Gas Nigeria Ltd, Kolo Creek Petroleum Dev. Ltd, Celtic Pride Consult and Events Ltd, Yenagoa Mall Ltd, the Incorporated Trustees of Concerned Niger Delta Initiative, Adaka Boro Marine Services Ltd, Sugarland Integrated Farms Nig. Ltd, Geohan Telecommunication Nig. Ltd and others at large, on or about the 24th day of November 2014, at Port Harcourt, within the jurisdiction of this honorable court did take possession of the sum of Seven Hundred and Eight Million Five Hundred Thousand Naira (N708,500,000.00) which you reasonably ought to know that the money was obtained by a false pretense from the Niger Delta Development Commission purportedly for the purpose of providing quick win jobs for 300 youths and women groups and thereby committed an offense contrary to Section 15(2)(d) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 as amended and punishable under 15 (3) of the same Act.’

It further added, “Count 23 of the charge reads: ‘that you George Turnah Alabh in 2014 within the jurisdiction of this honorable court did receive the sum of $1,000,000.00 (One Million United States Dollars) (at the exchange rate of N184 to a Dollar) cash from one Umar Lawal of Hakuri Global Concept exceeding the statutory limit without going through a financial institution and thereby committed an offense contrary to Section 1 (a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 (as amended) and punishable under Section 16 (2) (b) of the same Act.'”

The statement noted that they pleaded “not guilty” to the charges.

Additionally, it mentioned that the prosecuting counsel, I. Agwu, presented several witnesses and documents to support the case against the defendants.

Justice Mohammed issued a verdict of two years imprisonment for each defendant, starting from the date of their arrest. The first defendant was ordered to pay N1,000,000 as an alternative to a fine, while the second and third defendants were to pay N500,000 into the Consolidated Revenue Account of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Furthermore, the fourth, sixth, and tenth defendants were directed to return the sum of N180,000,000. Other restitution amounts include N5,000,000 linked to the first convict, N100,000,000 linked to the sixth and tenth convicts, and N50,000,000 linked to Optimal Standard. These funds are to be forfeited to the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).

Additionally, N46,760,843.61, N494,371.86, N13,000,000, and N23,500,000 are to be forfeited to the NDDC by the ninth, fourth, second, and third defendants, respectively.

Turnah was known as the political protégé of former President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan.

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