Tunde Oyekola and Adeyinka Adedipe
23 July 2021
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• Court jails two fraudsters in Edo
A Kwara State High Court sitting in Ilorin, Kwara State, on Thursday, sentenced a 34-year-old man, Yakubu Afolayan, to 20 years’ imprisonment for impersonation and job scam.
Justice Mahmood Abdulgafar convicted Afolayan on the four counts preferred against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
The convict, who hailed from Share, in the Ifelodun Local Government Area of Kwara State, was arraigned on March 14, 2019.
He paraded himself as a custom officer and fraudulently swindled several unsuspecting job seekers under the guise of helping them to secure employment into the Nigeria Customs Service, before the long arm of the law caught up with him.
The prosecution told the court that Afolayan, between November 2018 and January 2019 in Ilorin fraudulently obtained the sum of N267,000 only from one Usman Opeyemi.
The offence, according to the prosecution, is contrary to Section 1 (a) of the Advance Fee Fraud and other Fraud Related Offences Act, 2006 and punishable under Section 1 (3) of the same law.
He pleaded not guilty to the counts.
During the trial, which lasted for over two years, the prosecution called four witnesses.
Documents tendered by the prosecution were admitted in evidence by the court.
In his judgment delivered on Thursday, Justice Abdulgafar said from the totality of evidence before the court, the prosecution proved its case beyond reasonable doubt and linked the accused to the crime.
He said, “It was the evidence of PW1 that the Nigeria Customs Service does not sell its recruitment forms to job applicants, but the defendant was collecting various sums of money from his victims as application fees. All the evidence was not challenged or controverted by the defendant.
“Another aspect to be considered in this case is the statements made by the defendant while he was in the custody of the EFCC. The statements were made voluntarily and he (Afolayan) confessed to the crime.”
In his allocutus, Afolayan’s counsel, S. O. Ishola, urged the court to temper justice with mercy saying “the convict is a first time offender”.
In response, counsel for the EFCC, Andrew Akoja, drew the attention of the court to Section 1(a) and 1(3) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act, 2006, which prescribed a maximum sentence of seven years’ imprisonment for the offence committed, as well as Section 386 of the Penal Code Law, which prescribed a maximum sentence of three years’ imprisonment.
Justice Abdulgafar said there was nothing the court could do than to follow the provisions of the law in sentencing the convict.
“I hereby sentence you, Yakubu Azeez Afolayan to seven years’ imprisonment on count one; seven years’ imprisonment on count two; three years’ imprisonment on count three and three years’ imprisonment on count four, to run concurrently.
“The convict is to spend his custodial sentence at the Mandala Correctional Centre with effect from November 14, 2021,” Abdulgafar added.
In a related development, two fraudsters, Noah Omoregbe (a.k.a Frank Mark) and Destiny Efewengbe (a.k.a William Scot) have been sentenced to two years and six months’ imprisonment respectively, by Justice Efe Ikponmwonba of the Edo State High Court sitting in Benin City, Edo State.
The convicts were arraigned on one count each of impersonation and intent to defraud, contrary to Section 484 of the Criminal Code Law Cap. 48 Laws of the defunct Bendel State of Nigeria (as applicable in Edo State) 1976 and punishable under the same law.
The charge against Omoregbe read, “That you, Noah Omoregbe (a.k.a Frank Mark), on or about the 21st day of June 2021 on Yoruba Street, Benin City, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, did with intent to defraud, falsely represented yourself as one Frank Mark, an American soldier, and sent scam messages to one Liud Mila via your iPhone X with IMEI No: 354862090120911 with the intent to obtain money from her, thereby committing an offence contrary to Section 484 of the Criminal Code Law Cap. 48 Laws of defunct Bendel State of Nigeria (as applicable in Edo State) 1976 and punishable under the same law.”
The defendants pleaded guilty to the charges.
Justice Ikponmwonba convicted and sentenced Omoregbe to two years’ imprisonment with an option of fine of N200,000 , while Efewengbe was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment with an option of N200,000 fine.
He also ordered that items recovered by the prosecution during investigation be forfeited to the Federal Government. ,