Justice J. Liman of the Federal High Court, Benin, on Wednesday convicted Charles Eboigbodin and Michael Igbinedion, younger brother to Lucky Igbinedion, former Edo State governor.
The duo alongside their companies: Gava Corporation Limited; Romrig Nigeria Limited; PML Securities Company Limited and PML Nigeria Limited, were prosecuted on an 81-count charge of money laundering, misappropriation of funds and abuse of office brought against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
The convicts pleaded not guilty when they were arraigned, setting the stage for a full trial. In the course of trial, the prosecution called several witnesses to prove its case.
One of them, Ajoyo Sowale, an Accounts Officer with the Guaranty Trust Bank, identified various account statements and account opening documents of the convicts and confirmed to the court that several lodgements were made into the accounts, and that he printed the account statements and got them certified by the appropriate authority.
The parties adopted their written addressed in November 14, 2014, while judgment was fixed for December 1, 2014. But a series of adjournments delayed the delivery of the ruling till April 29.
When justice Liman finally delivered his ruling today, he found the two accused persons guilty on some of the counts. The judge convicted Mr. Eboigbodin for money laundering on counts 50-59, while Mr. Igbinedion was pronounced guilty as charged on counts 79-81. The judge however deferred the sentencing of the convicts till tomorrow April 30, 2015.
Some lawyers in court said they were shocked that while the suspects committed the same offence and faced the same charges, the judge found Mr. Igbinedion guilty of a lesser offence. “As it is now, Igbinedion may get away with a slap on the wrist while Eboigbodin may face a more severe punishment.”