By: Mayen Etim
KADUNA, North-West, Nigeria – The Kaduna Zonal office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC), on Friday October 11, 2019 secured the conviction of six SIM swap fraudsters in Kaduna.
The convicts are Okafor Obinna, Chigbo Chidi, Oha Chukwujekwu, Ahamefula Izuchukwu, Ugonna Owete and Ikenna Henry.
In a statement made available to newsmen in Kaduna, signed by the Commission’s Head of Media and Publicity, Mr. Wilson Uwujare, said the convicts were arraigned on October 10, 2019 before Justice Mohammed Tukur of the State High Court sitting in Kaduna on a two count amended charge bordering on conspiracyand obtaining money by false pretences.
They had pleaded not guilty to the charges against them but later opted for a plea bargain.
Count one of the amended charges reads: “that you Okafor Samuel Obinna, Chigbo Pascal Chidi, Oha Chukwujekwu, Ahamefula Francis Izuchukwu, Ugonna Nelson Owete, Ikenna Henry and Chinyere Aniobi Jessica and ( others now at large ) Sometime in 2019 at Kaduna within the Kaduna Judicial Division of the High Court of Justice Kaduna State conspired among yourselves to do an illegal act to wit; theft of the sum of N2,911, 840.00 ( two million, nine hundred and eleven thousand, eight hundred and forty naira) from the Diamond Bank (now Access Bank) account of one Abdulrauf Bolaji with account number 0109150254 which after his SIM swap, was transferred to several accounts without his consent, and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 58(1)(a) of the Kaduna State Penal Code Law, 2017 and punishable under Section 59(2) of the same Law”.
At the resumed hearing on October 11, Counsel to the EFCC, S. H Sa’ad, informed the court that the matter is slated for consideration of plea bargain application filed by Usman Liman on behalf of the defendants.
While the 7th defendant, Chinyere Jessica pleaded ‘not guilty’ to the charges, the six other defendants pleaded guilty to the two count amended charge, prompting the prosecuting counsel to urge the court to convict and sentence them accordingly.
Counsel to the Defendants, Usman, prayed the court to temper justice with mercy while sentencing.
Justice Tukur consequently convicted and sentenced the six defendants to five years in prison with an option of N500,000 ( five hundred thousand naira) fine each.
The Judge also ordered that, in addition to the fine, Ugonna Nelson Owete and Ikenna Henry are to serve a mandatory five months each in prison starting from the date of their arrest.
Justice Tukur further ordered the convicts to write an undertaking of good behaviour, after serving their jail term, to the EFCC.
Sa’ad asked the court to fix a date for commencement of the trial of Jessica who pleaded not guilty to the charges against her. The case was adjourned to October 15, 2019 for hearing of her bail application.