A Lagos High Court sitting in Ikeja has sentenced a former Chief Accountant of Vanguard Newspapers, Bhadmus Abiodun, to seven years imprisonment for fraud. He was prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on an eight-count charge of conspiracy, forgery and stealing of about N40.66million belonging to his employer.
The court also sentenced former circulation representative of Vanguard newspaper, Benin Office, Joseph Ejike Ezeobi, to three years imprisonment over his involvement in the stealing and forgery. Justice Oluwatoyin Ipaye held that the prosecution has proven its case against Abiodun and Ezeobi beyond reasonable doubt and sentenced them to various prison terms without an option of fines. Prosecution counsel, Abba Mohammed, in the course of the trial informed the court that Abiodun committed the offence in collaboration with the Vanguard Media Representative for Onitsha, Samuel Ogbole between January 9, 2006 and January 4, 2008.
But Ogbole was said to have absconded when bail was granted to the duo by the court after their arraignment. He is still at large. He further informed the court that the convict and his accomplice had at various times, also illegally converted N4.52million, N18million, N18.14million belonging to his employer, Vanguard Newspapers.
Specifically, Mohammed said that on January 16, 2007, the duo conspired and forged a Wema Bank deposit slip with No. 7125699 purporting to be the value of N225, 165. Also on May 30, 2007, the prosecutor told the court that the men conspired and forged a Wema Bank deposit slip with No. 3270712 purporting to be the value of N256, 850. The duo also, on January 7, 2009 in Lagos, with intent to defraud the Complainant (Vanguard Media Limited), fraudulently converted N800,000 property of Vanguard Media Limited.
The court also learnt that they committed the fraud on November 21, 2007 when they conspired and forged a Wema Bank Plc deposit slip No. 0278679 purporting to be in the value of N740,000 dated November 21, 2007. 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. 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 belonged 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.” The judge however said that the prison terms for counts two to eight are to run concurrently.