Justice K.A.Jose of the Lagos State High Court sitting in Ikeja, Lagos has convicted and sentenced one Sheriff Olasheni Ajaga to five years imprisonment for N29.5m fraud.
Ajaga’s journey to prison began after he was introduced to the complainant, Jimoh Oyesiji, by one Jimoh Aremu Oderinde, the first defendant in the case.
The complainant was assured that the second defendant, Ajaga, would assist him secure the release of the 10,800 bags of rice that the Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, seized from his warehouse.
As a result, the convict provided a First Bank Plc account and requested the complainant to pay the sum of N29.5 million towards the release of his consignment of rice.
After the payment, Ajaga, however, reneged on his promise, as he neither assisted the complainant with the release of his goods nor refund his money.
The defendants were arrested and prosecuted, following a petition dated February 9, 2015 received by the Commission from the complainant. Investigation revealed that the convict benefited N22.5 million from the fraud.
During their arraignment, the defendants pleaded not guilty, which resulted in their trial.
In the course of the trial, the prosecution counsel, V.O. Agboje, called six witnesses who testified against the defendants.
The first defendant called two witnesses in his defence, while the convict testified for himself and did not call any further witness.
Also, in the course of the trial, the bail granted to the convict was revoked because he came late to court on May 24, 2018.
Efforts to reinstate the convict to bail were opposed by the prosecution.
When the case was adjourned for adoption of final addresses, the convict, on two occasions, changed his legal representation.
The convict, in the course of proceedings, also filed an application to re-open his defence, which was granted.
However, instead of re-opening his case, he opted to enter into a plea bargain with the prosecution through a letter to the Commission dated February 11, 2019.
It was agreed that the convict would restitute the victim the sum of N22m, and the plea bargain was executed.
While delivering her Judgment, Justice Jose convicted and sentenced Ajaga to five years imprisonment effective from May 24, 2018, when his bail was revoked.