Nineteen persons have been convicted and sentenced to prison for Internet fraud.
This was disclosed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, in a statement on Tuesday.
The convicts were sentenced on Tuesday by Justices Efe Ikponmwonba and M. Itsueli of Edo State High Court sitting in Benin City, the Edo State capital.
The convicts are Fidelis Esajini, Nicholas Azeke, Marvelous Alakpa, Adelike Ifeakachukwu Destiny, Osamwingie Osarenwinda, Mathias Friday Gbenga; Collins Etiosa Iyekeoretin, Anyanwu Miracle, Justice Aifo and Emmanuel Efetobor.
Others are Osahenie Louis Uwoghiren, Emmanuel Osifo, Timothy Nowamagbe, Desmond Taiwo, Atunu Brilliant Ewomaoghene, Elvis Onojebe, Promise Uduaghan, Francis Uzoma Okoliko, and Omokaro Omonefe.
They were arraigned separately on one count of charges 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.
One of the convicts, Collins Etiosa Iyekeoretin, was accused of retaining the control of the aggregate sum of N303,304,519:69 (Three Hundred and Three Million, Three Hundred and Four Thousand, Five Hundred and Nineteen Naira, Sixty-nine kobo) in his UBA bank account number: 1021606211, on behalf of Osawonyi Ella, “knowing that same represents the proceeds of the criminal conduct of the said Osawonyi Ella and others”, thereby committing an offense contrary to Section 17(a) of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission ( Establishment ) Act, 2004 and punishable under section 17(b) of the same Act.
The charge against Fidelis Esajini reads. “That you, Fidelis Esajini sometime in May 2023 within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court did with intent to defraud represent yourself to be one Lisa, a citizen of the United States of America, and thereby committed an offense 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 to the defendants pleaded with the court to temper justice with mercy as the defendants were first-time offenders who had turned a new leaf.
Justice Ikponmwonba convicted and sentenced Esajini, Destiny, Osarenwinda, Gbenga, Iyekeoretin, Nowamagbe, Ewomaoghene, and Okoliko to three years imprisonment with an option of N200,000 (Two Hundred Thousand Naira) as fine.
Azeke, Miracle, Aifo, Efetobor, Uwoghiren, and Osifo were sentenced to three years imprisonment or a fine of N100,000 (One Hundred Thousand Naira) each.
Alakpa, on his part, bagged a three-year prison sentence, with an option of a fine of N300,000 (Three Hundred Thousand Naira), while Taiwo bagged a two-year jail term, with an option of a fine of N200,000 (Two Hundred Thousand Naira).
Justice Itsueli convicted and sentenced the trio of Promise Uduaghan, Elvis Onojebe, and Omokaro Omonefe to three years imprisonment or a fine of N200,000 (Two Hundred Thousand Naira).
The court also ordered that six vehicles: a Lexus ES350, a black Mercedes ML350, a Mercedes Benz C-30 model, a Mercedes Benz ML 350, a Lexus NX, and a Toyota Corolla, as well as iPads, laptops, phones, and the balance amounts the defendants’ bank accounts be forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria through the EFCC.