Justice Efe Ikponmwonba of the Edo State High Court in Benin City convicted and sentenced an impersonator, Endurance Agbi, and ten other fraudsters to various prison terms on Tuesday.
The other convicts are: Sylvester Osatofoh Ebhoaiye, Edafe Promise, Christian Skinn, Ariomoghwa Lucky, Ogbebor Pricewill, Irikefe Prosper, Odiri Ejiro, Eyengho Richard, Apoi Ufouma, and Enabor Peter Odianosen. While Odianosen was jailed on Wednesday, October 10, 2023, all the others were jailed on Tuesday.
They were arraigned separately on one-count charges of personation and unlawful possession of fraudulent documents by the Benin Zonal Command of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The charge against Agbi reads: “That you, Endurance Agbi, sometime between December 21st, 2020, and January 8th, 2021, in Benin City, Edo State, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, with intent to defraud, represented yourself to be Dr. Odidi, a herbal medical practitioner, 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 Ebhoaiye reads: “That you, Sylvester Osatofoh Ebhoaiye, sometime between November 2022 and July 9, 2023, in Benin City, did with intent to defraud, represent yourself to be Jones Walker, a verified and legitimate Bitcoin trader, and thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under Section 384 of the Criminal Code Law of Edo State.”
The charge against Odianosen reads: “That you, Enabor Peter Odianosen, on or about the 1st of August, 2023, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, did have in your possession on your Nokia C20 with IMEI Number 35674897485052519 documents which you knew or ought to have known contained a false pretence and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 6 and 8 of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Related Offences Act 2006 and punishable under Section 1(3) of the same Act”.
Upon arraignment, the defendants pleaded guilty to their respective charges, prompting prosecution counsels to pray to the court to convict them and sentence them accordingly. However,counsel to the defendants prayed the court to temper justice with mercy “as the defendants have become remorseful for their actions.”
Justice Ikponmwonba convicted and sentenced Agbi to 12 months imprisonment or a fine of one hundred thousand naira (N1,000). Ebhoaiye, Skinn, Lucky, Richard, and Ufouma were sentenced to three years imprisonment with the option of a three hundred thousand naira (N300,000) fine.
The duo of Princewill and Ejiro bagged three years imprisonment or a fine of five hundred thousand naira (N500,000) each, while Promise and Prosper bagged three years imprisonment or a fine of two hundred thousand naira (N200,000) each. Odianosen also bagged three years of imprisonment or the option of a fine of N500,000 (five hundred thousand naira).
The judge ordered the forfeiture of two Toyota Venza, one Mercedes-Benz GLK, one Lexus NX200, and one HondaAccord 2013 model mobile phones and balances in the convicts’ bank accounts, being proceeds of crime, to be forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria.
The court also ordered that the sum of $525.00 recovered in cash from Agbi during investigations be paid to the Federal Government of Nigeria’s account through the EFCC for onward delivery to the NFIU. Also, the judge ordered that the bank accounts of the convicts be permanently closed.
The journey to the Correctional Centre began for Agbi and his co-travellers following their arrest by operatives of the Commission based on actionable intelligence regarding their nefarious activities at different locations in Delta State. During the investigation, they were discovered to be involved in different shades of internet fraud.
Agbi, in particular, was arrested through a collaboration between the EFCC and the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit, NFIU, in response to a suspicious transaction report of $12,800 on his account. He confessed that he was an internet fraudster and that he impersonated the identity of Dr. Odidi, a traditional medical practitioner, and through that, he defrauded his unsuspecting foreign victims.