Gratification: Appeal Court Upturns Ruling in Favour of ICPC

The Court of Appeal, sitting in Abuja has sentenced one Mr. Apeh Samuel Akogu, a former civil servant who worked in the Accounts department of the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing to a 7-year jail term, with an option of a fine.

Apeh was charged before Honourable Justice A.O. Ebong of the FCT High Court, Abuja by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) on a 3-count charge for asking, receiving gratification, and conferment of unfair advantage on himself contrary to Sections 10 and 19 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000.

One of the counts reads: ‘’That you, Apeh Samuel A, (M) in January, 2015, or thereabout while being a public Officer to wit; a staff of the Accounts Department of the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, did receive from one Osahon Osemwota a contractor, the sum of 820, 000.00 (Eight Hundred and Twenty Thousand Naira only) which was paid into your G.T Bank Account to enable you facilitate payments for contracts performed by him for the said Ministry and you hereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under Section 10 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission Act, 2000.’’

ICPC Prosecutor, K.C. Peprah, while proving the charges against Apeh, called 4 witnesses and tendered relevant documents. The Convict, on the other hand, called only one witness and testified himself that the purpose of the payment of the gratification by the Petitioner was in commiseration to him for the death of his Uncle. 

Though the ICPC prosecutor, had argued that the defence put forward by Apeh was an afterthought, the trial Judge discharged and acquitted him based solely on the grounds that the demand and receipt of the corrupt gift were not done in the exercise of his official duties.

Dissatisfied with the judgment of the trial court, the ICPC approached the Appeal Court seeking to quash the judgment. 

Having listened to the argument from the two counsel, the Appellate Court unanimously overturned the decision of the trial court and sentenced the Defendant to 7 years imprisonment with an option of a fine of N50,000. 00 (Fifty Thousand Naira).

The Court also held that the convict makes restitution of the amount collected as gratification to the Petitioner.