An Ikeja High Court presided by Justice Lateef Lawal-Akapo on Monday sentenced a court registrar, Oluronke Rosolu, to 10 years imprisonment for defrauding a former Chief of Army Staff, Ishaya Bamaiyi of $330,000.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Mrs. Rosolu was convicted on all the two counts charge of conspiracy and obtaining money by false pretences brought against her by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
Mr. Lawal-Akapo, while sentencing Mrs. Rosolu, said: “the representation that she never collected $330,000 from the complainant is deceptive; the accused could not provide a strong alibi for her whereabouts when the fraud occurred.
“I find the accused guilty as charged.
“As a registrar of court, the accused should have been an image maker of the judiciary, but she acted in the contrary.
“She has to swallow her bitter pill.
“On count one, I sentence the accused to 10 years imprisonment and on count two I sentence the accused to 10 years imprisonment.
“Both sentences are to run concurrently,” the judge said.
NAN also reports that Mrs. Rosolu collapsed in the dock as soon as the judge gave the verdict, wailing in Yoruba language: “I do not know anything about the money, what is going to happen to my children.”
Earlier, Mrs. Rosolu’s lawyer, Bamidele Ogundele, pleaded with the court to temper justice with mercy.
“My Lord, my client is a first-time offender without any criminal record and she has four children as dependants.
“My Lord, the society will not gain if her four children are abandoned without motherly care.
“She has been on suspension from the judiciary for over a year and she is retiring next year after 34 years of active service in the judiciary,” Mr. Ogundele sought mercy for his client.
Counsel to the EFCC, E.E. Iheanacho, however, requested that Mrs. Rosolu should receive the maximum sentence.
“The crime for which the accused is being charged carries a mandatory sentence of 10 years imprisonment.
“In the circumstance, we will be urging the court to sentence her accordingly,” the EFCC lawyer argued.
The convict, who is a former registrar to Justice Joseph Oyewole, was tried for aiding Fred Ajudua, a one-time Lagos socialite to defraud Mr. Bamaiyi, a retired lieutenant-general, at Kirikiri Maximum Prisons between November 2004 and June 2005.
The fraud was perpetrated when Messrs. Ajudua and Bamaiyi were remanded in Kirikiri Prisons for different offences.
During Mrs. Rosolu’s trial, experts from EFCC and Mrs. Bamaiyi had testified that Mrs. Rosolu came to the prison during the period to help Mr. Ajudua funnel the funds from Mr. Bamaiyi.
The anti-graft agency had alleged that Mr. Ajudua had made a false representation to Mr. Bamaiyi that the 330,000 dollars was the professional fees for the law firm of Afe Babalola and Co. to facilitate his (Bamaiyi’s) release from prison, a claim which the firm had since denied.
Two forensic experts from the EFCC had also testified during the trial that Mrs. Rosolu had failed a polygraph test.
Mrs. Rosolu, who testified during her trial, however, denied going to Kirikiri Maximum Prisons or knowing Messrs. Ajudua and Bamaiyi.