A Federal High Court sitting in Calabar, Cross River State, presided over by Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu has convicted one Obed Chukwuemeka Great, a student of the University of Calabar, and 13 others for offences bordering on criminal impersonation with intent to defraud.
The 13 others aged between 18 and 27 are Nwagbara Randy Chima, Omororo Charity, Enya Aboli Samuel, Otaka Emmanuel, Owolabi Kolawole, and Ekima Kingsley Ujiokoyo.
Others are: David Frank Osas, Gabriel Uko Ogbu, Ihemekwelam Uriel Chkwuemeka, Ejiofor Victor, Thank-God Udeme, John Omokhagbon Audi and Gabriel Okongor.
The defendants were arraigned on different dates, and they pleaded ‘guilty’ to the separate one count preferred against them by the Uyo Zonal Command of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
One of the charges reads: “That you, Ejiofor Victor sometimes in 2022 in Nigeria within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court with intent to obtain property and gain advantage for yourself, fraudulently presented yourself as Peter Weller and James Garland, an American Bitcoin manager, to your victims on Facebook and Instagram and obtained the sum of Two Thousand Dollars ($2,000) and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 22 (2) (b)(i) and (ii) of the Cyber Crime (Prohibition, Prevention etc) Act 2015 and punishable under Section 22 (b) (iv) of the same Act”.
In view of their pleas, the prosecution counsel, Segun Akinrinlade, prayed the court to convict and sentence the defendants accordingly.
But Justice Ojukwu convicted and sentenced the defendants as follows:
Nwagbara and Omororo were sentenced to 1year imprisonment with the option of a fine of N800,000.00 each while Samuel was sentenced to 6 months imprisonment with the same option of fine.
Ejiofor was sentenced to 6 months imprisonment with the option of a fine of N800,000.00, while Udeme, Audi, and Okongor were sentenced to 1year imprisonment each with the option of a fine of N800,000.00 each.
While Obed Chukwuemeka Great, Otaka Emmanuel, Owolabi Kolawole, Ekima Ujiokoyo, David Osas, Gabriel Ogbu, and Ihemekwelam Uriel Chkwuemeka were sentenced to 1year imprisonment each with the option of a fine of N800, 000.00 except Ogbu who bagged 6 months imprisonment with the same option of fine.
All 14 convicts were ordered to forfeit the gadgets they used in committing the crimes to the Federal Government
The convicts were arrested at different locations within Cross River and Akwa Ibom states on February 22, 2022, and March 1, 2022, by operatives of the Commission, during sting operations.