The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Gombe Zonal Command, has arraigned lawyer, one Gideon Ngwen, before Justice C. Dabup of the Plateau State High Court, Jos, on three counts bordering on criminal breach of trust and misappropriation.
The defendant allegedly converted the N107m judgment debt paid into his account on behalf of his clients for personal use.
The cash belonged to about 100 employees of Plateau State Radio Television Corporation whose employment was unlawfully terminated by the Plateau State Government.
According to a statement on Tuesday by the EFCC spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren, titled, ‘EFCC arraigns lawyer for pocketing clients’ N107m in Jos,’ 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.
They stated that during the trial, the parties entered into a consent judgment and it was agreed that the sum of N181, 890, 402. 66 be paid to all the 100 employees through the account of the defendant domiciled in United Bank for Africa.
They further alleged that to their dismay, they discovered that the N107m paid into the defendant’s UBA account had been converted by him for personal use.
Count One of the charges 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 use the sum of N67, 540, 129. 57 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.”
He pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The statement read, “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, saying, “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 must write a letter of undertaking to produce him in court anytime for trial,” the statement noted.
The matter was adjourned till November 3, 2021 for hearing.