A senior lawyer, Ahmed Mai-aji, was on Thursday sentenced to seven-year imprisonment without an option of fine after he dishonestly sold a plot in violation of the trust the complainant had for the convict.
The accused was re-arraigned on a three-count charge before Justice Haruna Yusuf Mshelia of the State High Court, Maiduguri, Borno State for offences of criminal breach of trust and cheating to the tune of N3 million.
Mai-aji was said to have been entrusted with a land document for the purpose of intervening in a land dispute between the complainant and another party before he disposed it off without the consent of the complainant.
It will be recalled, Mai-aji was re-arraigned as a result of an application brought by his counsel, S.M Konto seeking an order declining jurisdiction to hear and determine the charge on the ground of bias or likelihood of bias by Justice Fadawu Umar, the former judge handling the matter.
In his ruling on May 16, 2017, Justice Umar said, “the issue of bias arises as a result of judicial rulings delivered by this court on the grounds of the application brought by the defence counsel for lack of jurisdiction by the EFCC to initiate any criminal matter before this court and the refusal of bail”
On Tuesday June 13, 2017, Mai-aji was re-arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) before Justice Mshelia.
Prosecution counsel, Khalid Sanusi in proving the case, tendered seven different exhibits and five witnesses testified against the convict.
In his judgment, Justice Mshelia said that the court found him guilty of the offences of criminal breach of trust and cheating.
He was subsequently sentenced to five years in prison without an option of fine in counts one.
The convict was however found not guilty and therefore, discharged and acquainted on count two.
On count three, the court found him guilty and convicted him to two years in prison without an option of fine. The sentences are to run concurrently.
Count Three of the charge reads:
“That you, AHMED MAI AJI, sometimes in 2016 at Maiduguri Borno State within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, dishonestly induces one Baba Yusuf Bukar to deliver to you the sum of N3,000,000.00 (Three Million Naira) only, in the name of payment for a plot of land situated at Pompamari Light Industrial Layout, Maiduguri Borno State, covered by grant of Right of occupancy N0:BO/6057 of 79.1981, which was kept in your custody for the purpose of discharging your responsibility without any right to sell same, contrary to and punishable under sections 320 and 321 of penal Code Law Cap 102, Laws of the Borno State of Nigeria 1994 respectively”.