Justices Efe Ikponmwonba and M. Itsueli of Edo State High Court sitting in Benin City on Tuesday, June 6, 2023, convicted and sentenced 19 Internet fraudsters to prison for fraud.
The convicts are Fidelis Esajini, Nicholas Azeke, Marvelous Alakpa, Adelike Ifeakachukwu Destiny, Osamwingie Osarenwinda, Mathias Friday Gbenga; Collins Etiosa Iyekeoretin, Anyanwu Miracle, Justice Aifo, 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 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 Etiosa Iyekeoretin reads: “that you, Collins Etiosa Iyekeoretin sometime between 23rd January 2018 and 26th May 2023 in Benin City, Edo State within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court did retain the control of the aggregate sum of N303,304,519.69 in your UBA bank account number: 1021606211 on behalf of Osawonyi Ella, knowing that same represent the proceeds of criminal conduct of the said Osawonyi Ella and others and thereby committed an offence 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 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 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 Two Hundred Thousand Naira as fine.
Azeke, Miracle, Aifo, Efetobor, Uwoghiren, Osifo were sentenced to Three years imprisonment or a fine of One Hundred Thousand Naira each.
Alakpa bagged three years imprisonment or a fine of Three Hundred Thousand Naira while Taiwo bagged two years imprisonment or a fine of 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 Two Hundred Thousand Naira.
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 of Nigeria through the EFCC.