A former Commissioner of Agriculture in Kogi State, Hon. Zacchaeus Atte, has been arraigned before Hon. Justice Josiah Joe Majebi, of a Kogi High Court sitting in Okene, by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) for allegedly defrauding the state government of N35.5 million.
The Commission in an 8-count charge accused Atte of diverting the money to his personal use thereby contravening Section 19 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000.
ICPC’s counsel, John-Paul Okwor explained to the court how the accused used his office as the Commissioner of Agriculture to convert the sum of N11, 937, 000 for himself under the pretext of purchasing and distributing 200,000 oil palm seedlings to Kogi State oil palm farmers in February, 2015.
Atte was also accused of diverting the sum of N350, 000 on the pretext of distributing 100,000 cocoa seedlings to cocoa farmers in the state in August, 2015; and also converting the sum of N8, 873, 766.85k to personal use under the pretext of purchasing oil palm sprouted nuts in May, 2015.
The accused was also said to have, in January, 2015, corruptly enriched himself with the sum of N2,849, 958.75k which was meant to purchase two units of Sharp Photocopiers.
Mr. Okwor further told the court how the accused had siphoned various amounts of public funds meant for other projects he had earlier got approvals for.
The accused pleaded not guilty to all the charges when they were read to him.
While ICPC’s counsel told the court that they were ready for the trial and asked for a date to present witnesses, the defense counsel, Mr. Adebayo Eniwaye quickly asked for bail for his client.
The trial judge however, held that the bail was not ripe for hearing and ordered that the accused be remanded in prison custody.
The matter was adjourned to 20th June, 2017 for hearing.