Justice M. Itsueli of Edo State High Court Sitting in Benin City has convicted and sentenced 15 fraudsters to jail for internet fraud and obtaining under false pretences.
The convicts are Seth Chukwumah, Hart James Okoh, Berta Aghogho Akpoveta, Obinna Okoh Patrick, Ugwoke Chinecherem Johnson and Akpovona-Momoh Malcolm Oghenekome.
Others are Frank Efe Okeoghene, Okpidi Oghenerukevwe and Prince Tamunotonye Obinna, Jeffrey Nwose, Louis Victory Emuerhime, Isoso Precious, Tsebi Princewill, Dafinone Osuma and Oyinkepreye Anderson.
The convicts were arraigned on separate one-count charges of fraudulent representation and unlawful possession of fraudulent documents by the Benin Zonal Command of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
Chukwumah, Okoh, Patrick and Akpoveta were arraigned on September 12 while others were arraigned on September 11 and 13, 2023.
One of the charges reads: “That you, Tsebi Princewill sometimes between 2022 to 2023 in Benin City, Edo State within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court did with intent to defraud represent yourself to be Tony Richards, a white man and thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under Section 484 of the Criminal Code Law Cap 48, Laws of Bendel State (as applicable in Edo State) 1976″
Upon arraignment, all the defendants pleaded guilty to their respective charges, prompting prosecution counsel, F.A.Jirbo, I.M. Elodi, Ibrahim Faisal, Salihu Ahmed and T.Y Bello, to ask the court to convict and sentence them accordingly. However, counsel to the defendants pleaded with the court to temper justice with mercy.
Justice Itsueli convicted and sentenced Johnson and Obinna to six months imprisonment or a fine of N500,000 (Five Hundred Thousand Naira) each.
Chukwumah bagged two years imprisonment with an option of a fine of N500,000.
Osuma and Anderson were convicted and sentenced to two years imprisonment each or a fine of N300,000 (Three Hundred Thousand Naira only). Okoh, Akpoveta, Patrick, Oghenekome, Oghenerukevwe, Emuerhime, Precious, Nwose, and Princewill were each sentenced to three years imprisonment or a fine of N500, 000 except Okeoghene who bagged three years imprisonment or a fine of N1,000,000 (One Million Naira only).
The judge ordered the convicts to forfeit one blue Lexus RX 350; one Mercedes Benz GLK 430, 2017 model, one Red Mercedes Benz GLK 2014 model; one black Lexus NX 300, 2020 model; one Silver Lexus RX 350 2011 model; mobile phones and laptops being proceeds of crime to the Federal government of Nigeria through the EFCC. In addition, the judge ruled that the convicts’ bank accounts domiciled in Keystone Bank, UBA, GT Bank, Zenith Bank, Unity Bank, Opay Digital Services Limited, Fair Money Microfinance Bank and Rolez Microfinance Bank used in receiving proceeds of crime, be permanently frozen and monies found therein forfeited to the Federal government of Nigeria.