On Monday, July 10, 2023, a Federal High Court sitting in Benin City, Edo State, convicted and sentenced two ‘pickers’ to jail for money laundering.
This was announced in a press statement by Wilson Uwujaren, Head, Media & Publicity, of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The preceding Judge, Justice C.A. Obiozor, sentenced Amadi Amos Obazee and Presley Oteigbe Ibadin to jail for engaging in fraudulent activities.
According to the press release, “the defendants were arraigned by the Commission’s Headquarters on a six count charge bordering on money laundering. The duo were said to have aided in the laundering of over a billion naira which are proceeds of crime for Queen Osifo and Innocent Moura Chukwubuzor, two Nigerians based in France.
“One of the charges against Obazee reads: “that you, Amadin Amos Obazee ( aka Osazuwa) between 2016 and 2019 in Benin City, Edo State within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court directly took possession of the total sum of N1, 141,410.620.00 which sum you knew or reasonably ought to have known represent proceeds of your boss, Queen Osifo (aka Faith igbinosa, Igbinosa Nosa) criminal conduct to wit: money laundering and you hereby committed an offence contrary to section 17(b) of the Money Laundering (. Prohibition) Act, 2012 as Amended.”
“One of the charges against Ibadin reads: “that you, Presley Oteigbe Ibadin between 2016 and 2017 in Benin, Edo State within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court directly or indirectly took possession of the sum of £ 1,226,844) which sum you knew or reasonably ought to have known represent proceeds of your boss, Queen Osifo (aka Faith igbinoba, Igbinoba Nosa) and Moura Chikwubuzor Innocent criminal conduct with the aim of disguising the origin of the money and you hereby committed an offence contrary to section 17(b) of the Money Laundering (. Prohibition) Act, 2012 as Amended.”.
The defendants pleaded guilty to the charge at their arraignment, prompting the prosecution’s counsel, Deborah Ademu-Eteh, to ask the court to convict and sentence them accordingly.
The defendants’ defense attorneys, D.A. Oladejo and Patrick. A. Wilson, appealed with the court to temper justice with mercy because they were first-time offenders who were remorseful for their acts.
Obazee and Ibadin were convicted and sentenced to two years in prison with the option of a two million naira fine each by Justice Obiozor.
“The court ordered that the balance of N6, 957,124 in Obazee’s account be forfeited to the federal government of Nigeria through the EFCC” the press statement stated.
“The convicts’ journey to prison began when, sometime in 2019, the Commission received a letter from the Director of Anti- Transnational Organised Crime Unit of the Federal Ministry of Justice, Abuja on behalf of Paris Court of Appeal regarding the money laundering and human trafficking activities of Igbinoba Nosa and Innocent Moura Chikwubuzor, two Nigerians based in France
“The duo were involved in recruiting, exploiting and luring Nigerian girls to Europe for prostitution and aggravated pimping as well as informal money transfer of funds from Europe to Nigeria for which they received 10 percent commission for each transfer” it added.
During the course of investigation, Ibadin and Obazee confirmed receiving cash in foreign currency from Osifo and Chikwubuzor, which they converted into Naira and deposited into designated accounts.
Osifo and Moura were convicted and sentenced to various prison sentences and fines in France for their heinous roles in organized crime, money laundering, human trafficking, and contributing to modern day slavery.