Justice Efe Ikponmwonba of Edo State High Court sitting in Benin City on Tuesday, September 19, 2023 convicted and sentenced 12 internet fraudsters to various jail terms.
The convicts are Ugboko Constance, Eric Oyinkepreye, Joseph Ogheneovo Azanuwha, Ekuma Austin, Ebireri Emmanuel Oghenenyerhovwo, Onakpofure Augustine, Alaomala Emmanuel Ifechukwude and Emuje Oghenechouwe. Others are Amah Michael, Kabiru Mohammed, Ogizeh Japheth Mudiakevwe and Chukwuemeka Emmanuel.
Their journey to prison began following their arrest by operatives of the Benin Zonal Command of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission based on intelligence on their alleged involvement in internet fraud-related activities. Upon conclusion of the investigations, they were arraigned on separate one count charges of personation and unlawful possession of fraudulent documents.
The charge against Michael reads: “that you, Amah Michael sometimes between 2022 and 2023 in Benin City, Edo State within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court did with intent to defraud represent yourself to be Calvin Hill, 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 of Nigeria (As applicable in Edo State ) 1976”.
The charge against Oghenenyerhovwo reads: “that you, Ebireri Emmanuel Oghenenyerhovwo on or about 1st day of August, 2023 in Benin City, Edo State within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court did have in your possession documents which you knew or ought to have known contain a false pretence and thereby committed an offence contrary to Sections 6 and 8 of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act.2006 and punishable under section 1(3)of same Act”.
Upon arraignment the defendants pleaded guilty to their respective charge prompting the prosecution counsel, F.A. Jirbo, Salihu Ahmed, I.K. Agwai and A.A. Ibrahim 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 Ikponmwonba convicted and sentenced Constance, Michael, Oghenechovwe, Ifechukwude, Oghenenyerhovwo Mudiakevwe and Emmanuel to three years imprisonment with an option of Five Hundred Thousand Naira.
The duo of Oyinkepreye and Mohammed bagged three years imprisonment or a fine of Three Hundred Thousand Naira while the trio of Azanuwha, Augustine and Ekuma Austin were sentenced to three years imprisonment or a fine of Two Hundred Thousand Naira
In addition, the judge ordered that : one Lexus RX 350; two Lexus ES 350, one Toyota Camry, a Dell laptop, phones and balance of money in their bank accounts being proceeds and instruments of crime be forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria.
All the convicts are to further undertake in writing to be of good behavior.