An Igbosere Magistrates’ Court in Lagos on Thursday sentenced a 67-year-old man, Gabriel Mbah, to six months imprisonment for negligently causing fire that burnt 80 units of imported Turkish doors worth N7.3 million.
Magistrate Mrs A. A. Famobiwo, who handed down the sentence, however, gave the convict an option of N500,000 fine.
At his arraignment on Feb. 29, 2016, the convict, Mbah, pleaded not guilty to the two-count charge of willfully setting fire on a property preferred against him.
However, the magistrate found him guilty on the first count of negligently causing the fire but discharged him on the second count of willfully causing the fire.
She said: “the evidence of the eyewitness and that of the investigating police officer point to the fact that the defendant was the person who started the fire.
“The defendant never denied that he made a fire but said it was not the fire he made that burnt the goods.
“He said that he made a fire to burn refuse after doing environmental but used water to put off the fire.
“However, there was no evidence that any other person made a fire after the defendant.
“Though the defendant did not set fire on the property of the complainant but he did not exercise proper care to put off the fire.
“He was therefore negligent and is convicted for negligently causing the fire but he is not convicted of the second count because there was no proof that he willfully set the fire; it was an act of negligence.
“He is hereby sentenced to six months imprisonment with an option of N500,000 fine,” Famobiwo held.
Earlier, the prosecutor, Insp. Solomon Mawari had told the court that the defendant committed the offences on Jan. 30, 2016, at 10.00a.m, at STI Market, Coker, Lagos.
He said that the defendant willfully set fire which entered a warehouse and burnt 80 units of Turkish doors valued at N7.3 million, belonging to the complainant, one Mr Ogochukwu Obiora.
Mawari said that the offences contravened Sections 340 (2) and 341 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2011.