Justice Sedoten Ogunsanya of the Lagos State High Court in Igbosere on Wednesday convicted and sentenced a truck dealer, Okezie Ebele, to three years imprisonment for stealing N1.6 million.
Justice Ogunsanya jailed Ebele after he pleaded guilty to an amended one-count charge of stealing by conversion filed against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The judge in her verdict held, “In view of the defendant’s plea and a review of the facts, the court finds the defendant guilty as charged.”
While pleading for mercy for His client, the defence lawyer, Ikenna Ebelebe said, “The defendant is a first time offender. He has two kids, is the breadwinner of his family and he is also supporting his aged parents.
“He used to be very robust, but now he has become emaciated in prison custody. His business is in ruins. He has been in detention for more than 36 months. We propose that he be freed,” the lawyer pleaded.
The court noted that Ebele had already spent over three years in detention following his arraignment on October 6, 2015 on two counts of stealing and issuance of a dud cheque.
The judge held that she was not restricted to the terms of the plea bargain deal he entered with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
“I’ve seen the plea bargain. The court is not bound by your plea bargain agreement. The defendant has spent over three years in prison. He is hereby sentenced to three years in prison with effect from 6 October, 2015,” Justice Ogunsanya held.
Earlier, the EFCC, through its counsel, Fadeke Giwa, filed the amended one-count charge against Ebele.
Giwa told the judge that the commission amended the charge from two counts of stealing and issuance of a dud cheque brought against Ebele on October 6, 2015, to just stealing, following the plea bargain agreement.
She said Ebele obtained N1.6million from a customer, Prisca Nene, in 2014, on the pretext of buying her a truck.
The court heard that Ebele, with intent to defraud, stole and converted the money to his own use and never delivered the truck.
Following a petition to the EFCC, Ebele paid back N350,000 to Nene.
He also issued three cheques to her to cover the balance, but the cheques were returned for lack of sufficient balance in his account.
But, in the course of his trial on the former two-count charge, Ebele paid back the full sum.
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