A former aide to the former Governor of Edo State, Mr. Patrick Eboigbodin, was on Thursday sentenced to 20 years imprisonment on a ten-count charge of money laundering, ThisDay reports.
Justice Mohammed Liman of the Federal High Court sitting in Benin-city sentenced Eboigbodin to two years each on each of the ten counts which are to run concurrently without the option of fine.
The former governor’s younger brother, Micheal Igbinedion, who was the second accused, was also sentenced to six years on a three-count charge but with an option of fine of N3 million for the three counts.
Justice Liman also pronounced that the sixth accuse, PMI Security Nigeria Limited, which is a corporate body, be wound up and its asset forfeited to the government. Before the sentence was passed, counsel to the first and second accuse presented their brief where they pleaded for leniency and an option of fine rather than jail term for their clients.
Chief Richard Ahonanuogho, counsel to the first accuse, Eboigbodin, noted that though the relevant punishment for the offence is jail term, the court also has the description to impose fine.
He posited that no money was traced to the personal benefit of the accused and as such, he deserved a lighter punishment.
“He has shown complete remorse, not only during the trials but at all times. He will never, if given the second chance, commit the same offense again,” he said.
According to him, “This appeal for leniency also became necessary from the length of time the accused has been on trial or my Lordship can apply the principle of suspended sentence of the first accuse.”
On his part, Alhaji Abubakar Shamsuddeen, counsel to the second accuse, Igbinedion, said the plea for leniency became necessary since his client was a first offender and had no previous criminal record.
While noting that the punishment for the offense which his client was convicted of was punishable by a jail term of not less than two years and not more than three years, he said the offender had been remorseful and repentant and thus pleaded for an option of fine. Shamsuddeen also noted that a fine was appropriate since the essence of punishment was to rehabilitate rather than destroy.
He also argued that the accused was only a victim of the system which allowed payment by cash as at that time.
In his submission, counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Tayo Olukotun, posited that an option of fine being canvassed by the accused was not justifiable.
He urged the court not to be convinced by the plea of option being tendered by their counsel, arguing that the trials were not all about the accused but the state as well as the common man on the streets of Edo.
It would be recalled that the presiding judge, Justice Mohammed Liman, had on Wednesday convicted the first and second accused of ten and three count charge respectively.
Both accused and four others were being tried for N25 billion money laundering charges.
The first accused was former Accountant- General of the state, while the second is the younger brother to the former governor of Edo State, Cheif Lucky Igbinedion.
The offences for which they are being tried were committed during the reign of Chief Lucky Igbinedion as governor of Edo State between 1999 to 2007.
The trial which has been on for over three years now has suffered several postponements.