A Lokoja Senior Magistrates’ Court on Monday sentenced, Ignatius Ahmodu, the Federal Commissioner representing Kogi at the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), and 15 others to 14 months imprisonment each for belonging to an unlawful society, criminal trespass and intimidation.
The convicts were arraigned on a five-count charge of criminal conspiracy, trespass and intimidation, disturbance of public peace and unlawful assembly.
They were also charged with engaging in witchcraft contrary to various sections of the Penal Code.
The convicts were said to have illegally trespassed onto the land of Charles Iduh of Umuochina village, Avurugo, Igalamela/Odolu Local Government of Kogi.
They were said to have criminally taken possession of the land and its economic trees.
Mr. Ahmodu, who was contending the ownership of the land, was said to have mobilized and led the other convicts to Mr. Iduh’s house, criminally intimidated him and embarked on a rampage.
This development, the prosecution further said, led to the disturbance of public peace.
In her judgment, Senior Magistrate Rachael Omajali said the prosecution had proved its case beyond reasonable doubt.
In the judgment that lasted five hours and 10 minutes, Mrs Omajali said the volume of evidence before her pointed to the fact that the land in question belonged to Mr. Iduh.
The counsel to the accused, John Adele, pleaded with the court for leniency.
He said Mr. Ahmodu’s position as Federal Commissioner representing Kogi at the RMAFC would suffer if he was sent to prison, adding that other convicts had dependents who would suffer.
But the prosecuting counsel, Badama Kadiri, said Kogi was in existence before the commissioner and would continue to exist with or without him as no one was indispensable.
Mr. Badama, a Chief Legal Officer with the Kogi Ministry of Justice, added that a position in public office was not a ticket for anyone to trample on other peoples’ rights.
Mrs Omajali then sentenced the convicts to three months in prison and N1, 500 cost for each of the four charges relating to criminal conspiracy, criminal intimidation, criminal trespass and engaging in witchcraft and another N1,500 for trespass.
The magistrate sentenced the convicts to two months in prison for disturbance of public peace and belonging to membership of an unlawful assembly while being in possession of arms, thus making a total of 14 months.
She ordered the convicts to serve the sentences cumulatively.
Mrs Omajali, who did not give option of fine, also ordered that the convicts be spread to serve their jail terms in Dekina and Kabba Federal Prisons respectively.
She, however, said that the convicts could appeal the judgment within 30 days if they were not satisfied.