A High Court in Ikeja, Lagos, on Tuesday, sentenced Bhadmus Abiodun, a former Chief Accountant of Vanguard Newspapers, to seven years imprisonment for fraud.
The court, presided over by Justice Oluwatoyin Ipaye, also sentenced Joseph Ejike Ezeobi, a former circulation representative at the same newspaper to three years’ imprisonment for his involvement in fraud.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission prosecuted the duo on 8-counts of conspiracy, forgery and stealing to the sum of N3.1million belonging to Vanguard.
The judge held that the anti-graft agency thoroughly proved its case against Abiodun and Ezeobi beyond reasonable doubt and thus found them guilty of the offences.
She sentenced the defendants accordingly without an option of fines.
Abba Mohammed, the counsel for the EFCC, had said that the offences were committed in collaboration with one Samuel Ogbole, the newspaper's representative in Onitsha, between January 9, 2006, and January 4, 2008.
Ogbole absconded after he was arraigned and granted bail by the court. He is still at large.
Mohammed informed the court that Abiodun and his accomplice had on various dates, illegally converted N400, 000, N2.5million and N120, 000 belonging to the complainant, Vanguard, for personal use.
Mohammed said: “On January 16, 2007, the duo conspired to and forged a Wema Bank deposit slip with No. 7125699 purporting to be the value of N225,165.
“On May 30, 2007, the men conspired and forge a Wema Bank deposit slip with No. 3270712 purporting to be the value of N256, 850”.
According to Mohammed, the offences are contrary to Sections 390 (7), 467 (2)(i) and 516 of the Criminal Code Law of Lagos State 2003.
Justice Ipaye held that the money Biodun and Ogbole kept for themselves belongs to Vanguard newspaper.
The judge said: “The defendant is hereby sentenced to seven years in prison on count one. He is sentenced to seven years in prison each for counts two to eight.”
Justice Ipaye ruled that the prison terms for counts two to eight are to run concurrently.