Justices Efe Ikponmwonba and M. Itsueli of the Edo State High Court sitting in Benin City on Tuesday, June 6, 2023, convicted and sentenced 19 Internet fraudsters to prison for fraud.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission disclosed this via its Twitter handle, @officialEFCC, on Wednesday.
The convicts are Fidelis Esajini, Nicholas Azeke, Marvelous Alakpa, Adelike Destiny, Osamwingie Osarenwinda, Mathias Gbenga; Collins Iyekeoretin, Anyanwu Miracle, Justice Aifo, Emmanuel Efetobor.
Others are Osahenie Uwoghiren, Emmanuel Osifo, Timothy Nowamagbe, Desmond Taiwo, Atunu Ewomaoghene, Elvis Onojebe, Promise Uduaghan, Francis Okoliko and Omokaro Omonefe.
They were arraigned separately on a one-count charge bordering on retention of proceeds of crime, fraudulent representation and unlawful possession of fraudulent documents by the Benin Zonal Command of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
The charge against Collins read, “That you, Collins, sometime between January 23, 2018, and May 26, 2023, in Benin City, Edo State within the jurisdiction of this court did retain the control of the aggregate sum of N303,304,519 in your bank account on behalf of Osawonyi Ella, knowing that same represents the proceeds of the criminal conduct of the said Osawonyi Ella and others and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 17(a) of the EFCC (Establishment) Act, 2004 and punishable under Section 17(b) of the same Act.”
The charge against Fidelis read, “That you, Fidelis, sometime in May 2023 within the jurisdiction of this court, did with intent to defraud, present yourself to be one Lisa, a citizen of the United States of America and thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under Section 484 of the Criminal Code Law Cap 48, Laws of Bendel State of Nigeria (as applicable in Edo State) 1976.”
Upon arraignment, all the defendants pleaded guilty to their respective charges prompting the prosecution counsel, F.A. Jirbo, I.M Elodi, Saliu Ahmed, A.A. Ibrahim and AS Balariba to pray the court to convict and sentence them accordingly.
However, counsel for the defendants pleaded with the court to temper justice with mercy as the defendants were first-time offenders who had turned a new leaf.
The statement read, “Justice Ikponmwonba convicted and sentenced Esajini, Destiny, Osarenwinda, Gbenga, Iyekeoretin, Nowamagbe, Ewomaoghene and Okoliko to three years imprisonment with an option of N200,000 as fine.
“Azeke, Miracle, Aifo, Efetobor, Uwoghiren and Osifo were sentenced to three years imprisonment or a fine of N100,000 each.
“Alakpa bagged three years imprisonment or a fine of N300,000 while Taiwo bagged two years imprisonment or a fine of N200,000.”
Justice Itsueli convicted and sentenced Promise Uduaghan, Elvis Onojebe and Omokaro Omonefe to three years imprisonment or a fine of N200,000.
The court also ordered that six vehicles – Lexus ES350, Black Mercedes ML350, Mercedes Benz C-30 model, Mercedes Benz ML 350, Lexus NX, Toyota Corolla- iPad, laptops, phones and the balance in the defendants’ bank accounts be forfeited to the Federal Government through the EFCC.