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A sales representative, Mr Kehinde Ajani has been sentenced to four and a half years in prison with hard labour for stealing his boss’ N4.590 million.

Ajani was convicted and sentenced four years by Chief Magistrate Victor Ugoji of a Rivers State Chief Magistrate’s Court after he was found guilty of committing the said crime.

In 2018, the offender was said to have diverted 30,000 litres of Automotive Gas Oil (AGO) valued at N4,590,000 belonging to his employer, Hyde Energy Limited.

Ajani, who was employed in 2008, was to oversee about eight stations across the country where products were loaded and dispatched.

He was, however, accused of diverting the products after loading sometime in 2018 which he sold for personal use. 

When asked, Ajani had told his employer that he was yet to load the product due to delays by the tank farm.

Not convinced by his claims, the company’s management was said to have instructed another employee to confirm after Ajani had left the company. It was then discovered that Ajani had since loaded the product, sold it and fled Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital.

Upon this discovery, the company contacted the law firm of Adeniji Kazeem & Co, who petitioned the State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID), Port Harcourt and the police started tracking him.

The convict was said to have been trailed to his hideout in Ogun State, arrested and later charged to court for stealing. His trial, however, suffered some setbacks following the elevation of the Magistrate who was presiding over the case.

The case was subsequently transferred to Chief Magistrate Ugoji in September last year and the matter started afresh.

On September 6, Chief Magistrate Ugoji held that Ajani had the sole responsibility of ensuring delivery of the product, which belonged to the complainant after remit payment was sent to him for such purpose.

“The defendant kept deceiving the complainant that the product was not loaded by giving several reasons which the complainant relied on not until when he was no longer on the employment of the complainant before the truth became known,” the court held.

It established the case of stealing against Ajani, found him guilty and convicted him accordingly.

The court ruled: “There was heavy and unchallenged evidence against the defendant which must be relied on. The case falls squarely on the betrayal of trust which the complainant had reposed on the defendant and he should serve as a deterrent to others.

“On the offence of conspiracy, the defendant is hereby sentenced to 18 months imprisonment with hard labour with an option of a fine of N50,000. On the offence of stealing, the defendant is hereby sentenced to three years imprisonment with hard labour with an option of a fine of N100,000.

Chief Magistrate Ugoji added: “The defendant is to pay the sum of N4 million to the complainant as compensation for his product. The defendant is also to pay the sum of N100,000 to the complainant as the cost of litigation. The payment should be immediate.”