Chief Magistrate A. O. Awogboro found him not guilty of a count of conspiracy but convicted him of stealing.
Before sentencing, the convict’s counsel Philips Onyama made an allocutus for his client and pleaded for a sentence of a fine, or a lenient jail term.
“He’s a first time offender; he has no father, only a sick mother who relies on him to survive. He has been in custody since March 24, 2014 and has suffered emotional and physical torture. He is also now more sober and refined,” Onyama added.
Pronouncing judgment, Chief Magistrate Awogboro sentenced Anibolu to four years in prison, beginning from the date of his detention, adding that: “No one must be allowed to profit from his crime.”
Anibolu, 26, was arraigned on April 3, 2014 by the Lion Building Police Division, Lagos, on a two-count charge of conspiracy and stealing contrary to Sections 409 and 285(8) of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2011.
He denied the charge and was admitted to N500, 000 bail.
During the protracted trial lasting two years and nine months, prosecuting Police Superintendent Chidi Okoye said the defendant, of No.15, Baale Street, Agbroko Iba in Ojo area of Lagos committed the offences on March 22 around 2pm at FBN Alaba 2 branch in Ojo.
Okoye stated that the defendant, who was on annual vacation, came to the bank premises under the pretext that he wanted to help a customer to post his land use charges.
“He fraudulently changed a customer’s identity and mandate card which enabled him to debit the said account of the sum N9 million and transferred it into various accounts,” he said.
According to him, the theft and others committed by the accused were later discovered to be N9.308m.
A forensic auditor attached to the bank, Solomon Akhanolu, was able to link the fraud to Anibolu through the password he used to change the customer’s identity and mandate card, the prosecutor said.
According to Anibolu’s confessional statement which was tendered by the prosecution and admitted by the court, his accomplices, who are still at large, promised him N4million as his share of the fraud, but they disappeared with the money and gave him nothing.
“I have been working with the bank as a teller since 2011 but on the day of the incident, I used the passwords of my colleagues with the help of “F” Key logger given to me by my friend called Afeez who is now at large. The logger helps link a customer’s identification with another that has online banking, which enables cash to be transferred successfully from one account to another. My regret now is that I was supposed to get N4 million as my share but the receivers of the money have since disappeared. I regret my action,” he said, according told the police.
Although Anibolu disowned the statement in court, saying he was forced to make it at the station while he was detained, handcuffed, flogged and his legs chained, the court ruled during a trial within trial that there was no evidence of coercion and the prosecution’s testimony was credible.
“There was also no trace of any bruise on the defendant,” Chief Magistrate Awogboro said and observed that since he was on leave, Anibolu did not need to go back to the bank to carry out the transaction.
She added: “He could have made a phone call to his colleagues at the bank. If he did not have an ulterior motive, why should he be at the office on a Saturday?”