A 24-year-old tiler is to spend the next 12 months in prison or pay the sum of N10,000 as fine for stealing three phones belonging to one Miss Cynthia Anikwe and two others students of the Ebonyi State University, an Abakaliki Magistrates’ Court has ruled.
Senior Magistrate Ngozi Ngele pronounced the verdict after the accused pleaded guilty to the one count of stealing.
Ngele, who sentenced Igwe to 12 months’ imprisonment with an option of fine, said the court exercised its discretion on the matter and decided to be lenient.
She stated, “If not, the accused should be made to serve in a prison for over five years with heavy labour to serve as a deterrent to others.
“Let me ask you Igwe, how have you felt being in the prison the short time you have been there? Did your stay there make you happy? So, why on earth would you go to a place to steal through the window?
“You are lucky. If the victims of your action had, at the time you committed the crime, seen your face, they could have had heart attack and died. And you would have been charged for murder.
“Let me warn you; you could have been an ex-convict. I’m not sure because I don’t have your real particulars. But I’m going to get all your particulars and make them available to all police stations and courts in Ebonyi State.
“If your face is by any means seen in these premises for any offence, I will make sure you go in for life imprisonment.”
The accused, a native of Umuoghara in the Ezza North Local Government Area of the state, had upon arraignment on October 21, 2019, admitted committing the offence and was remanded in a correctional facility.
When the matter was called up on Friday for facts and sentence, he again admitted his guilt, which led the magistrate to convict and sentence him.
The police prosecutor, Inspector Chinedu Mbam, had earlier told the court that the accused committed the offence at the GRA Hostel, Ishieke village, around 2am on October 21, 2019, when he stole two Tecno and one Itel phones valued at N126,000 through the window.
He said the accused had pleaded guilty to the charge and urged the court to convict and sentence him in accordance with the provisions of the law.
He added that the offence contravened and was punishable under Section 390 (9) of the Criminal Code, Cap. 33, Vol. 1, Laws of Ebonyi State of Nigeria, 2009.