A Jos Chief Magistrates’ Court of Nigeria on Tuesday sentenced a 24-year-old Olataju Habinu to six months imprisonment for stealing one bag of rice, valued at N 20,000. The Chief Magistrate, Mr. Jovita Binjin, sentenced the convict after refusing to believe his actions were attributed to devil and hunger, even as he pleaded guilty to the crime. Olataju Habinu pleaded, “It was the devil that made me do it. I didn’t know what came over me and I was hungry. I wanted to sell some of it and reserve some for myself. Have mercy on me. I will not do it again.” In his ruling, the magistrate sentenced Habinu to three months in prison for trespass and another three months for theft.
The magistrate however, gave the convict an option to pay a fine of N 5,000 explaining that the sentence was meant to serve as deterrent to those who might want to commit similar acts. The Prosecutor, Sgt. Shuaibu Mohammed, had earlier told the court that the accused had trespassed into the house of one Matthew Pankyes resident of Chwalnyap, Jos and stole a bag of rice with the help of another man who was still at large. But the vigilant neighbour, who saw the convict take the bag of rice, gave him a chase and tracked him to his hide out. The offence attracted Sections 343 and 288 of the Penal Code.