An environmental sanitation Court sitting in Umuahia , the capital of Abia State has sentenced a 22 year-old man, Otung Otung to one month imprisonment for refusal to observe the monthly sanitation exercise in the State and lying before the Court.
Otung , a clerk with an R&S lotto betting centre in Umuahia, was arrested by a combine team of the Police and Federal road Corps who were maintaining law and order during the sanitation hours, before handing him over to the sanitation task force team.
It was learnt that he initially resisted arrest and in the process of forcing him to comply his phone fell off from his Jeans trousers pocket, but a member of the task force picked the phone and handed over to him.
It was gathered however that Otung latter raised the alarm at the sanitation Court where he was arraigned together with 40 other defaulters arrested during the exercise that his wallet was stolen by the task force team members.
The presiding Magistrate Mrs. Ngozi Obiza later called for the task force team members who brought Otung to the Court to defend accusation leveled against them.
A member of the team, who identified himself as Nwokeoma Ogechi, confirmed that Otung was arrested on Ikot Ekpene road Junction, adding that on getting to the Court he accused him of stealing his wallet and threatened to pour acid on him if the said wallet was not returned to him.
He added that the other suspects arrested along with Otung whose bags were ceased on the point of arrest had identified them and the bags were handed over to them on getting to the Court, but Otung did not complain of losing anything until minutes later.
While cross examining the suspect, Otung denied accusing the task force team members of stealing his wallet, as he had earlier told the Court, adding that he only complained to them that he lost his wallet containing the sum of N 10,145 and lotto tickets worth of N 12, 000.
However Otung’s employer one Mrs. Joyce Orji whom he had called and complained to that the members of the environmental task force team had stolen his wallet, told the Court that Otung owed her over the sum of N 40, 000 being money for lotto tickets he sold for her on Thursday.
She said Otung refused to settle with her cashier on Thursday and was nowhere to be found until Friday night when he returned her several missed calls and claimed that he was sick and unable to take hers calls.
She added that in her earlier conversation with Otung on Saturday morning, he told her that he didn’t come out with the money, but promised that he would account for the money latter on Saturday.
She added that she was amazed when Otung called and informed her that he had lost his wallet with the money.
In her judgement, the magistrate said Otung had been economical with the truth as his conflicting statements shows that he was speaking from the two sides of his mouth.
She sentenced Otung to one month imprisonment for not obeying the sanitation laws in the State, with an option of paying N10, 000 fine.
She said, “The task force team were officially doing their work and were not there to steal, Otung’s phone was picked and given back to him. In the same vein if they had seen his wallet they could have given it back to him. It is either he pays his fine or he will go to jail for one month.
Meanwhile ten other people who were brought before the Court were discharged as under aged, while twenty-five were released on health ground, but five of them pleaded and were also remanded.