A Federal High Court in Lagos Thursday sentenced a businessman, Mr. Jones Patrick Biyere, to a total of 140 years imprisonment, for forging foreign cheques.
The presiding judge, Justice Mohammed Idris, convicted the businessman, who has been standing trial before the court since 2006.
Biyere was guilty of the 13-count charge preferred against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The convict was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment each on count one to 11, while sentencing him to 15 years each on counts 12 and 13, making a total of 140 years imprisonment.
In sentencing the convict, Justice Idris said, “the prosecution has been able to prove its case against the defendant beyond reasonable doubt. Prosecution witness two confirmed to the court that the exhibit was for the defendant, and the defendant admitted same, and said it was about to be sent out of the country. He failed to give reasons why he wanted to send this exhibit abroad, knowing that they were fake.
“The evidence of the defendant is incapable to puncture the evidence given by the prosecution.
“In view of the allucutor by his counsel that he is a first offender, and the breadwinner of his family, I shall temper justice with mercy sentencing him. The trial took long time due to the attitude of the defendant.
“Consequently, I found the defendant guilty of all counts of the charge, and he is hereby sentence to 10 years in counts one to 11, and 15 years in counts 12 and 13.
The judge however, pronounced that the jail terms shall run concurrently.
The convict trial commenced sometimes in 2006 before the court on a 13-count charge, bordering on conspiracy, forgery, and exporting the said forged cheques outside Nigeria.
The EFCC had in an amended charge marked FHC/L/288c/06, stated that the convict alongside one Tony Adeyemi and one Eddy, who were at now large, had on or about May 31, 2006, at 15, McCarthy Street, Onikan, Lagos, fraudulently forged and signed 10 Lloyd’s TBS Cheques with numbers 002108; 002104; 000096; 00091; 005263; 005260; 000147; 000144; 000546; and 000550.
He was also said to have attempted to export the said cheques to foreign country through the offices of United Parcel Services (UPS) situated at Somolu and Gbagada.
The offences, according to the EFCC, are contrary to sections 3(2)a 6(2)(b) and 6(1) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act. Cap. 410, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 1990, as amended by Act. 62 of 1999, and punishable under Sections 3 and 3(b) of the Counterfeit Currency (Special Provisions) Act No. 22 of 1984 Cap. 77, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 1990.
He pleaded not guilty to the charge when he was first arraigned before the court in 2006, and was admitted to bail.
In the course of trial, the convict bail was revoked by Justice Idris, after he failed and refused to attend trial on severally adjourned dates.
Judge had also foreclosed the convict’s right to open his defence, due to alleged prolong delayed tactics.