13th September, 2012
A Yaba Chief Magistrate’s Court, Lagos State, southwest Nigeria, has sentenced a Lagos bsusinessman, Mike Agunobi to six years imprisonment for obtaining the sum of N5 million under false pretence and issuing of dud cheques.
However, the convict was given option of N5,100,000 fine in lieu of the sentence.
Agunobi was arraigned before the court on 4 June 2008 on 13-count criminal charge which was later substituted with a 10-count charge on 19 February, 2010.
The 10 counts charge consist of one, obtaining N6 million from Koil Pharmacy Company under false pretence, seven counts of issuance of dud cheques for various sums of money, one count of stealing N6 million and one count of threat to the life of Ifeanyi Luke Okeke and members of his family.
The defendant pleaded not guilty and was admitted to bail. The trails of the case commenced on 23 August, 2008. The prosecutor called three witnesses through whom 17 exhibits were tendered in support of his case.
The three witnesses were the complainant, Mr. Ifeanyi Luke Okeke; an accountant, Mr. Ezearuya Dave and the investigation police officer, Ekpe Nkanta. The defendant testified in support of his own defence and called no other witness. He tendered and relied on three exhibits.
Ifeanyi Luke Okeke of Block 361 R Close, 21 Road, Festac Town, in his evidence told the court that he deals in pharmaceuticals under the name of Koil Pharmacy Ltd. He said further that the defendant approached him to be a distributor to his company, MIM Pharmaceutical Industry, that produces penicillin ointment and consequently, he paid him N6 million to facilitate the production of the product.
However, after supplying him some quantity of the product, the defendant stopped coming to his office, consequence upon which the complainant wrote the defendant letters of demand. The defendant then issued seven different cheques to liquidate the debt by instalment but all the cheques were returned unpaid.
Okeke further told the court that when he eventually got through to the defendant to demand for the money owed him, the defendant threatened to deal with him and his family. Thereafter, he started noticing unknown people trailing him both at home and in the office, consequent upon which he wrote a petition to the police against the defendant.
Agunobi in his defence, told the court he knows Okeke as a customer who purchased penicillin ointment from his company, MIM Pharmaceutical Company. He also told the court that he paid the N1 million he borrowed from the complainant while he denied borrowing N5 million from him therefore, he claimed to have settled his indebtedness to him but has no evidence to prove it.
At the close of evidence of the witnesses, the parties filed and exchanged written addresses.
In her judgement, Chief Magistrate Adesola Ikpat, said: “Based on the foregoing consideration, this court is convinced that the defendant collected the sum of N5 million from Koil Company through Mr. Ifeanyi Okeke, under false pretence. Having also considered all counts comprised in the charge before me, I find the defendant guilty on count one, the offence of obtaining under false pretence contrary to Section 419 of the Criminal Code. I also find him guilty on count three. The offence of issuance of UBA cheque number 1259603 in the sum of N569,200 only to Koil Company knowing fully well that there was no sufficient fund in his account, an offence punishable under Section 419A of the Criminal Code..
I convict the defendant on the said counts accordingly. In respect of counts 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8,9 and 10, I find the defendant not guilty. I accordingly discharge him on the said counts.
“In respect of the first count, I hereby sentence the defendant to return and fully pay to the complainant the sum of N5 million to be paid within six months. The defendant is further ordered to enter into recognisance in the sum of N5 million with two sureties in the sum of N2.5 million each. In the alternative, the defendant shall serve four years imprisonment in lieu of default to pay the total sum within the said period.
In respect of count three, the offence of issuing dud cheque, the defendant is sentenced to a fine of N100,000 only with options of imprisonment for two years.