By Christopher Oji
Kehinde Ajani, a former sales representative with Hyde Energy Limited, has been sentenced to four years and six months imprisonment for diverting his ex-employer’s 30,000 litres of automotive gas oil (AGO) valued at N4,590,000,000,00.
Ajani, who was docked on a two-count charge of stealing and conspiracy, was found guilty and sentenced by the Rivers State Chief Magistrate’s Court, Port Harcourt.
Magistrate Victor Ugoji, however, gave the convict an option of fine of N150,000, and immediate refund of the sum of N4,100,000 to his former employer, in lieu of imprisonment.
The convict was arraigned before the court following a petition written against him by the law firm Messrs Adeniji Kazeem & Co on behalf of his former employer, Hyde Energy Limited, to the police.
The petitioner averred that the convict became an employee of Hyde Energy Limited in 2008 and was in charge of about eight filling stations, but used his position to perpetrate the crime in 2018.
Before his conviction, the convict’s trial suffered some administrative bottlenecks following the elevation of the former magistrate presiding over the matter, after which the matter was reassigned to Chief Magistrate Ugoji in September 2021 and trial started afresh.
In sentencing the convict, the court held that: “The case falls squarely on betrayal of trust that the complainant had reposed on Ajani, and his conviction should serve as deterrent to others.
“I will consider the allocutus, being that the convict is a first-time offender. On the offence of conspiracy, the court sentence you to 18th months imprisonment with hard labour with an option of fine in the sum of N50,000.
“On the offense of stealing, the court sentenced you to three years imprisonment with hard labour with an option of fine in the sum of N100,000.
“Besides, you are to pay the sum of N4,000,000 to the complainant as compensation for the product. And also to pay the sum of N100,0000 to the complainant as cost of litigation”, the court ruled.
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