June 21, 2024

Court jails two ‘Pickers’ for money laundering in Benin

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Court jails two ‘Pickers’ for money laundering in Benin

Glory Ebomah

Justice C.A. Obiozor of the Federal High Court sitting in Benin City, Edo State on Monday, July 10, 2023, convicted and sentenced the duo of Amadi Amos Obazee and Presley Oteigbe Ibadin to jail for fraud.

The defendants were arraigned by the Commission’s Headquarters on a six-count charge bordering on money laundering. The duo was said to have aided in the laundering of over a billion naira which are proceeds of crime for Queen Osifo and Innocent Moura Chukwubuzor, two Nigerians based in France.

One of the charges against Obazee reads: “that you, Amadin Amos Obazee ( aka Osazuwa) between 2016 and 2019 in Benin City, Edo State within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court directly took possession of the total sum of N1, 141,410.620.00 which sum you knew or reasonably ought to have known to represent proceeds of your boss, Queen Osifo (aka Faith Igbinosa, Igbinosa Nosa) criminal conduct to wit: money laundering and you hereby committed an offence contrary to section 17(b) of the Money Laundering (. Prohibition) Act, 2012 as Amended.”

One of the charges against Ibadin reads: “that you, Presley Oteigbe Ibadin between 2016 and 2017 in Benin, Edo State within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court directly or indirectly took possession of the sum of £ 1,226,844) which sum you knew or reasonably ought to have known represent proceeds of your boss, Queen Osifo (aka Faith Igbinoba, Igbinoba Nosa) and Moura Chikwubuzor Innocent criminal conduct with the aim of disguising the origin of the money and you hereby committed an offence contrary to section 17(b) of the Money Laundering (. Prohibition) Act, 2012 as Amended.”.

Upon arraignment, the defendants pleaded guilty to the charge prompting the prosecution counsel, Deborah Ademu-Eteh to pray the court to convict and sentence them accordingly.  The defence counsel, D.A. Oladejo and Patrick. A. Wilson, however, pleaded with the court to temper justice with mercy as the defendants were first-time offenders who have become remorseful for their actions.

Justice Obiozor convicted and sentenced Obazee and Ibadin to two years imprisonment with an option of Two Million Naira fine each.

The court ordered that the balance of N6,957,124 in Obazee’s account be forfeited to the federal government of Nigeria through the EFCC.

Court jails two ‘Pickers’ for money laundering in Benin

The convicts’ journey to prison began when, sometime in 2019, the Commission received a letter from the Director of Anti- the Transnational Organised Crime Unit of the Federal Ministry of Justice, Abuja on behalf of the Paris Court of Appeal regarding the money laundering and human trafficking activities of Igbinoba Nosa and Innocent Moura Chikwubuzor; two Nigerians based in France.

The duo was involved in recruiting, exploiting and luring Nigerian girls to Europe for prostitution and aggravated pimping as well as informal money transfer of funds from Europe to Nigeria for which they received 10 per cent commission for each transfer.

During investigation, Ibadin and Obazee admitted they received funds in foreign currency from Osifo and Chikwubuzor, which they changed into Naira for onward distribution and deposit into designated accounts.

Osifo and Moura had been convicted in France and sentenced to various jail terms and fine for their despicable role in organised crime, money laundering, human trafficking and contributing to modern day slavery.

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