Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo of the Lagos State Special Offences Court in Ikeja has sentenced a travel agent, Babawale Ponle, to two years’ imprisonment for misappropriating N10m worth of airline tickets. Ponle, who is the Managing Director of Travel Doctor Limited, was arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on four counts bordering on stealing and issuance of dud cheques.
It was gathered that Ponle was given the tickets on credit by a travel company, Sound Travel Services Limited. The prosecutor, Samuel Daji, said Ponle committed the offence between March and December 2012.
According to the EFCC, Ponle issued two dud cheques to Sound Travel Services Limited in the sum of N3m and N7m. The offences contravened Section 285(7) of the Criminal Law of Lagos 2015 and Section 1 of the Dishonoured Cheques Offences Act.
However, during his defence, Ponle told the court that he sold the tickets on credit. Delivering her judgement, Justice Taiwo, who noted that the prosecution proved that the N10m was diverted for personal use, found Ponle guilty of the charges.
She said, “This court is mindful of the fact that this case emanated from a business arrangement between the defendant and the complainant. However, the defendant, since 2013, failed to pay anything to the complainant. The court is satisfied that he used out of the N10m for his personal use.
“In the light of this fact, I hereby sentence the defendant to two years’ imprisonment or a fine of N250,000. On the two counts of issuance of dud cheques, I hereby sentence the defendant to one year in prison or a fine of N200,000.”
The judge, however, noted that the court would not order restitution because the complainant had already been awarded restitution via a civil suit.
In a related development, Justice S.C. Oriji of the Federal Capital Territory High Court, Apo, Abuja, on Thursday, ordered the remand of an insurance broker, Abiodun Hassan, for the misappropriation of N26bn.
Hassan was arraigned alongside his company, Bestworth Insurance Brokers Limited, by the EFCC on five counts bordering on criminal breach of trust and misappropriation of funds. According to the EFCC, Hassan allegedly diverted the money, meant for the payment of premiums and claims of deceased and incapacitated staff of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria, into the corporate accounts of some entities. He pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Justice Oriji adjourned the matter till March 4, 2021, for the hearing of the bail application and ordered the remand of the defendant in the custody of the EFCC.