The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that an Osogbo High Court had on Monday April 29 convicted one Kelvin Ighodalo for stealing the governor’s phone.
Reacting to the sentence through a statement by Adewale Afolabi, the state Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, the government described the reports as over sensationalised by the media.
Although, Afolabi did not accuse any particular medium, he stressed the need to put the record straight and to educate the public on the facts in the case and the application of the law.
“Kelvin, from the investigation carried out by the State Security Services and presented before the court, is a dismissed police officer, who had earlier on been in prison for six years for a murder charge.
“He has subsequently served prison terms for receiving stolen goods in 2010 and while in prison, he was obviously working in conjunction with a syndicate.
“Members of the syndicate, who are still under investigation, arranged the stealing of the mobile phone of Gov. Rauf Aregbesola and before the SIM card was blocked, the syndicate impersonated the owner.
“They defrauded many close associates of Aregbesola. One Abdulgafar Yusuf was caught by security agents while trying to withdraw money paid into his bank account by two of their victims,” the statement read in part.
The commissioner also recalled that Mr Shenge Rahaman and Oba Adekunle Aromolaran had earlier on been defrauded of almost a million naira, while other numerous victims had fallen to their pranks.
The Attorney-General said that Kelvin was later arrested and charged to the court alongside his arrested accomplices; namely Ogunjobi Babatunde (a prison officer) and Abdulgafar Yusuf (the prison officer’s brother).
Mr. Afolabi said the accused were charged to court on a- six-count charge of conspiracy to obtain money under false pretence, obtaining money under false pretence, stealing and impersonation.
“Although Ighodalo was granted bail by the Court, he jumped bail and attempted committing similar offence with another person’s GSM number but was caught in the process.
“He was later arraigned on the six-count charge and he pleaded guilty to all the six counts. The first three counts carry twenty years maximum term with no option of fine,” he noted.
Mr. Afolabi clarified that whoever committed this offence under Subsection (1) or (2) is liable on conviction to imprisonment for not more than twenty years and not less than seven years without an option of a fine.
The commissioner further recalled, however, that the Judge, while sentencing Ighodalo, exercised his discretion within the limited space allowed by law to sentence him to 10 years term on each of the first three counts.
“To say that Ighodalo was sentenced to 45 years prison term for stealing Aregbesola’s phone is not only misleading but unduly sensationalised, unfair to the court and the entire criminal justice system.
“I will only advise that Nigerians should refrain from trivialising or playing politics with serious financial crime more so when other members of the syndicate are still at large and any member of the public may fall their victim.
“Financial crime must be confronted frontally no matter who the victim or the culprit is to have an economically prosperous, sane and safe society,” he added.