The Federal High Court in Lagos on Monday convicted and jailed a 26-year-old man, Abdullahi Seun, for spending fake naira notes.
Justice Muslim Hassan jailed the father of two for one year after he readily owned up to the offence and pleaded for mercy.
The convict was arraigned by the Police on one count.
In the charge, the prosecution said he was caught with fake naira notes, totalling N40,000.
The prosecuting counsel for the police, Joseph Eboseremen, said the convict, on March 15, 2018, had in his possession 39 N1000 notes and two N500 notes.
Eboseremen said Seun attempted spending the fake naira notes at about 4.30pm at UBC 365 Bet Office, Funsho Williams Avenue, Ojuelegba, where he was arrested by “a nominal witness” and handed over to the Police.
He said the convict violated Section 5 (1) of the Counterfeit Currency (Special Provisions) Act Cap C35 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, adding that he was liable to be jailed for seven years.
Upon being arraigned, Seun, who had no lawyer, promptly pleaded guilty but quickly added, “Someone gave it (the money) to me; please have mercy on me.”
He made further efforts to explain how he came about the fake naira notes but the judge told him to hold on.
In view of his guilty plea, the prosecutor reviewed the facts of the case by tendering documents as well as the fake naira notes, which the court admitted in evidence against Seun.
Eboseremen urged Justice Hassan to convict and jail Seun, noting that the offence attracts a prison term of seven years.
Finally given the opportunity to speak, Seun pleaded for the judge’s mercy, explaining that the N40,000 fake notes were given to him by someone who owed him N46,000.
He said after repeated demands, the debtor called him around 8pm one day and gave him the notes, adding that it was while attempting to buy something the following day that the seller raised the alarm and called ‘area boys’, who swooped on him and handed him over to the police.
“I am the first child in my family; I don’t know anything about it,” he told the judge.
When asked by the judge, Seun said his both parents were dead, adding that he was responsible for the upkeep of his younger siblings.
In his judgment, Justice Hassan said he would be lenient with the convict because he readily owned up to the offence without wasting the time of the court and because of the circumstances surrounding the case.
“Taken all the above into consideration and the relevant provisions of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, I hereby sentence you to one year imprisonment,” the judge held.
He said the sentence would run from March 15, 2018 when Seun was arrested. The judge warned him to be of good conduct, saying if he went into crime, he might not be as lucky again.
The judge said the fake naira notes should be destroyed by the prosecution in the presence of the Deputy Chief Registrar of the court if the judgment was not appealed after 90 days.