By CrossRiverWatch Admin
A magistrate court sitting in Obubra, Cross River State has sentenced one Mr. James Ochiche to two years imprisonment for impersonating the state Commandant of Nigeria Peace Corps.
In a two count charge in suit number MC/779C/2013, Ochiche was accused by the state command of the organization of impersonating as a deputy commandant as well as collecting N5000 to N8000 from unsuspecting public as service charge for recruitment into the service.
While delivering the judgement, the presiding Judge, Adome Etaba held that the accused was guilty of the first count charge as he was dismissed from the service in 2012 as such could not carry out any function on behalf of the organization.
The presiding judge however stated that there was no sufficient evidence against the accused that he fraudulently collected money for recruitment.
According to him, “After going through all the arguments and submission from both the defense and prosecuting counsel, I have found the accused, Mr. James Ochiche guilty of impersonation.
“The evidence presented before the court shows that the accused was dismissed from the organization in 2012. There’s a letter from the headquarters of the organization conveying his dismissal which he signed undertaken to.
“I have listen to the appeal by the accused and the application by the defense counsel for mercy but the offence of impersonation is a punishable offence that attracts 14 years imprisonment. However, the essence of punishment is not as punitive measure but to correct therefore, I hereby sentence him to two years imprisonment without option of a fine”.
On the second charge, the judge said that “There is no sufficient evidence before the court to show that the accused was guilty of collecting money to recruit people into the organization therefore I declare him discharged and acquitted”.
Reacting to the judgement, counsel to the convict, Atim Egbe expressed disappointment with the judgment even as he said that the judgement will be appealed in a higher court.
Egbe said that “I am not satisfied with the judgement because the matter was not properly addressed. The Magistrate said the accused failed to call the national commandant. It is not in his place to have called him. Even before the open court, the national commandant was called to answer some questions but the court didn’t say anything about that.
“Secondly when my client gave evidence that he was acting under the instruction of the national commandant, he was asked to show evidence which he tendered as exhibit before the court and nothing was said about it. So, definitely, we are appealing the judgement”.
On his part, counsel to the appellant, John Ogban commended the magistrate for the judgement adding that the evidence against the accused were too glaring to have been ignored.
Ogban said that “The evidence against the accused were so glaring and I’m glad that justice has taken it course. We will monitor the development because I know they may want to appeal the judgement”.
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