2 sentenced to 18 months imprisonment

Dec 24, 2020, 12:38 PM | Article By: Dawda Faye

Principal Magistrate Isatou Janneh-Njie of the Kanifing Magistrates’ Court recently convicted and sentenced one Anthony Onyeka Ugogu and Chuwuebuka Godfred Nwaiwu to 18 months imprisonment for conspiracy, stealing from a motor vehicle and wilful damage to property.

Delivering her judgment, Magistrate Janneh-Njie informed the court that the two had been convicted of conspiracy (counts 6 & 8) two counts of stealing from a motor vehicle (counts 7 & 10) and one count of wilful damage to property (count 9), all contrary to sections 368, 256 ( c ) & 312 of the criminal code respectively.

“The punishment for the said offences if found guilty in the cases of conspiracy and stealing from a motor vehicle, is liable to 7 years imprisonment; and in the case of wilful damage to property, is liable to 2 years imprisonment,” she told the court.

The presiding magistrate noted that considering the circumstances of the case that led to the conviction of the convicts, the level of culpability was high, in that it was a group work and some degree of planning was involved.

She added that substantial sums of monies were stolen and there were other consequential financial harm caused to the victims and some of the victims had been put through emotional distress.

“I have heard the plea of mitigation made by the defense counsel on behalf of the convicts and I have equally heard from both convicts and I have considered all of them. I have equally considered the fact that both convicts are first time offenders. I am guided by the case of Nyabally vs The State (1997-2001) GR @ page 68, where the court was of the opinion that exceptional long sentences on first time offenders are counter-productive. First time offenders can hopefully be rehabilitated to become good citizens by short sentences,” she added.

She maintained that she would therefore take the above as extenuating factors warranting an exercise of discretion, saying she had also taken into consideration that the convicts had been in custody for a very long time.

Magistrate Janneh-Njie told the court that since the two were convicted on distinct offences, she was bound by Section 7 (1) of the Criminal Procedure Code.

Accordingly, she indicated that the convicts are sentenced as follows: On count 6, to 18 months imprisonment without an option of a fine; on count 7, to 18 months imprisonment without an option of a fine; and that the sentences on counts 6 and 7 were to run concurrently.

On count 8, she sentenced the convicts to 18 months imprisonment without an option of a fine and on count 9, to 6 months imprisonment without an option of a fine; and on count 10, to 18 months imprisonment without an option of a fine.

The presiding magistrate also declared that the sentences on counts 8, 9 and 10 were to run concurrently and that the sentences were to run from the date the convicts were taken into remand custody.

In addition, she noted that the convicts are ordered pursuant to Section 145 of the CPC to compensate the victims of their loss as follows: To Mourad Belmohtar, a Minister Plenipotentiary on secondment at the African Commission on Human & People’s Right, the sum of D317,000; to Lamin B.S. Jarju, a civil servant working with the Malaria Control Programme  under the Ministry of Health, the sum of D1,200,000.

Pursuant to Sections 148A ( 1 ) and 299A of the CPC, she adduced, the court made the following further orders: The Reliance Financial Services Co. Ltd shall deliver to the Sheriff of the High Court the sums of monies amounting to the sum of D1,006,660 in Account No. 004-603433-3001 in the name of Anthony Onyeka Ugogu which sum was ordered frozen by the court dated the 18th of September, 2018, pending the determination of the case; the sum of D132,000 shall also be delivered by the Court Registrar to the Sheriff of the High Court; a motor bike, key and helmet shall be delivered to the Sheriff of the High Court, who shall have the said items valued and disposed of by way of public auction.

Principal Magistrate Janneh-Njie explained that the proceeds realised from the sale of the exhibits shall be added to the sum from the account at Reliance Financial Services and the sum of D132,000, and shall be paid by the Sheriff of the High Court to the crime victims.

“If monies ordered to be paid to the victims as compensation is sought, the balance shall be paid by both convicts in default to serve imprisonment of 6 months. If there is also any amount left after the victims are paid, such balance shall be forfeited to the state,” she said.

A copy of the sentence, she ordered, shall be served to the following: The Sheriff of the High Court; the Registrar of Kanifing Magistrates’ Court and Reliance Financial Services Co. Ltd.

Lawyer Edward Gomez, represented the convicts and Sub-Inspector Jammeh presented the bill of indictment on behalf of the IGP.