A Federal High Court sitting in Benin City, Edo State, yesterday sentenced Michael Igbinedion, the younger brother to former governor of the state, Chief Lucky Igbinedion, to 20 years imprisonment on a 10-count charge of money laundering.
The trial judge, Justice Mohammed Liman, also sentenced Mr. Patrick Eboigbodin, a former Accountant-General of the state during Lucky Igbinedion’s tenure to two years imprisonment on each of the 10-count charge (50-59) which are to run concurrently without an option of fine.
Michael Igbinedion, who is the second accused, also bagged six years on each of the three-count charges (79 -80) but with an option of fine of N3million for all the counts.
Justice Liman also pronounced that the sixth accused, PMI Security Nigeria Limited, which is a corporate body, be wound down and its assets forfeited to the government.
Before the long-awaited sentencing came, the counsel to the first and second accused, presented their briefs where they pleaded for leniency for their clients, such as the option of fine.
Chief Richard Ahonanuogho, counsel to the first accused, Patrick Eboigbodin, noted that though the relevant punishment for the offence is a jail term, the court also has the discretion to impose fine.
He posited that no money was traced to the personal benefit of the accused and as such, deserved a lighter punishment.
“He has shown complete remorse, not only during the trials but at all times. He will never, if given the second chance, commit the same offence again.”
According to the lawyer, “This appeal for leniency also became necessary from the length of time the accused has been on trial or my Lordship can apply the principle of suspended sentence of the first accused.”
On his part, Alhaji Abubakar Shamsuddeen, counsel to the second accused, Michael Igbinedion, said the plea for leniency became necessary since his client was a first offender and had no previous criminal record.
While noting that the punishment for the offence which his client was convicted was punishable by a jail term of not less than two years and not more than three years, the offender has been remorseful and repentant for an option of fine.
He also noted that a fine was appropriate since the essence of punishment was to rehabilitate rather than destroy and further argued that the accused was only a victim of the system which allowed payment by cash as at that time.
In his brief, counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Mr. Tayo Olukotun, posited that an option of fine being canvassed by the accused was not justifiable. He urged the court not to be convinced by the plea of option being pleaded by their counsel.
He argued that the trial was not all about the accused but the state as well as the common man on the street of Edo.

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