A Magistrate Court sitting in Ilorin, Kwara State capital has sentenced two persons, Gidado Shuaib and Olufemi Alfred to a fine of N100,000.00 each or five month imprisonment over a case of criminal conspiracy and defamation levelled against them.
The convicts were arraigned in court on a First Information Report dated November 2019 for offences of criminal conspiracy and defamation, contrary to Sections 97 and 392 of the Penal Code Law.
Their arraignment followed a petition written against them by Hillcrest Agro-Allied Industries Limited located at Kilometre 4, Ajase-Ipo road, Amberi village, Kwara state over a published article in News Digest “titled Inside Kwara Factory where Indian hemp is legalised”.
The article according to the petitioner portrayed the company, which is into rice production as a place where Indian hemp is being smoked freely by workers.
The company (Hillcrest Agro-Allied Industries, Limited) had told the court that the article in the online publication had caused the company and the petitioner damaged financially and reputation wise.
The petitioner had told the court that as a result of the article published in the online publication (News Digest) in June 2018, the company was denied a loan facility to the tune of $10,000,000 by funding partner in the United Arab Emirates called Arab Group and equally lost a deposit sum of $250,000.
Delivering judgement on the matter after about five years of legal battle, Magistrate A.S Muhammad said “I have carefully considered the evidence of PW1 (Shakirat Yusuf) on the character of the convicts as well as considered the Allocutus made by learned counsel to the convicts and I have equally reflected on the provisions of Sections 316 and 417 of the Kwara State Administration of Criminal Justice Law, 2018. In compliance with the provisions under Section 417 (2) (d) of the Kwara State ACJL, 2018, I shall not pass maximum sentence on the convicts.
“Premised on the forgoing for the offence of conspiracy, I sentenced the 1st and 2nd convicts to a fine of N40,000 only each or 2 months imprisonment in default of payment.
“On defamation, the 1st and 2nd convicts are sentenced to a fine of N60,000 only each or 3 months imprisonment in default of payment.
“For clarity, each of the convicts is to pay a fine of N100,000 only for the offences of conspiracy and defamation respectively, haven been convicted in default of payment, the sentence shall run concurrently. Rights of Appeal exist within 30 days”, the court said.