An Edo State High Court on Tuesday sentenced 19 persons to prison for engaging in internet fraud, popularly known as Yahoo Yahoo.
The convicts in separate judgements by Justices Efe Ikponmwonba and Mary Itsueli were found guilty of charges against them.
A statement by Wilson Uwujaren, Head, Media and Publicity of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, identified the convicts as Fidelis Esajini, Nicholas Azeke, Marvelous Alakpa, Adelike Destiny and Osamwingie Osarenwinda.
According to him, others are Mathias Friday Gbenga; Collins Etiosa Iyekeoretin, Anyanwu Miracle, Justice Aifo, Emmanuel Efetobor.
Uwujaren added: “Also sentenced to prison are Osahenie Uwoghiren, Emmanuel Osifo, Timothy Nowamagbe, Desmond Taiwo, Atunu Ewomaoghene, Elvis Onojebe, Promise Uduaghan, Francis Okoliko and Omokaro Omonefe.”
The convicts were arraigned separately by the Benin Zonal Office of the commission on count charges bordering on retention of proceeds of crime, fraudulent representation and unlawful possession of fraudulent documents.
“The charge against Collins Etiosa Iyekeoretin reads: “That you, Collins Etiosa Iyekeoretin sometime between January 23, 2018 and May 26, 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.”
The EFCC spokesman said upon arraignment, they all pleaded guilty to their respective charges, prompting the prosecution counsel, F. A. Jirbo, I. M. Elodi, Saliu Ahmed, A. A. Ibrahim and A.S. Balariba, to pray the court to convict and sentence them accordingly.
Uwujaren said: “Counsel to the defendants, however, 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 fine.
“Azeke, Miracle, Aifo, Efetobor, Uwoghiren, Osifo on the other hand bagged three year imprisonment or a fine of N100,000 each.
“Alakpa was committed to three year imprisonment or a fine of N300,000 while Taiwo bagged two year imprisonment or a fine of N200,000.”
According to Uwujaren, Justice Itsueli convicted and sentenced the trio of Promise Uduaghan, Elvis Onojebe and Omokaro Omonefe to three year imprisonment with an option of N200,000 fine.
He added: “The court also ordered the forfeiture of 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 to the Federal Government of Nigeria through the EFCC.”