Lukman Olabiyi, Lagos
Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke of the Federal High Court, Lagos, convicted and sentenced a woman, Alaba Kareem Adeyemi and her son, Damilola Ahmed Adeyemi, to three years imprisonment over fraud amounting $82,570.00.
The court convicted and sentenced the duo to the jail terms after they pleaded guilty to a four-count charge of conspiracy, internet fraud, obtaining under false pretence and impersonation levelled against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The convicts were arrested and brought before the following a report released by America’s Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
Arraigning them before the court, the EFCC counsel, Bilikisu Buhari, told the court that the convicts alongside Karren Russel (still at large) conspired among themselves and fraudulently impersonated the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of American Cranes Manufacturing Company and defrauded the said company of the sum of $82,570.00.
The two defendants pleaded guilty to the charge, a development that paved the way for the prosecution to review the fact of the case against them.
In reviewing the fact of the charge, a detective with the anti-graft agency, Inspector Idi Musa, told the court that sometimes in April 2019, the EFCC received a petition from the FBI and, upon analysing the petition, the two convicts were arrested.
“Sometimes in April 2019, the EFCC received intelligence from the FBI of the United State of America against the two defendants and others at large.
“The intelligence revealed that a United States manufacturing company, its official email through Chief Executive Officer was hacked by the first defendant and other co-conspirators at large, as a result, the company lose the sum of $82,000 USD.
“More so, the first defendant and others engaged in businesses of mail compromise, romance scam targeted at US citizen, where the victims lost various amounts of dollars to the first defendant, Damilola, and his syndicates.
“These funds were transferred to the Russel Karren account domiciled in Commonwealth Bank of Australia, after which it was transferred to the first defendant’s account with Standard Charter Bank of Nigeria between 2016 and 2019.
“During the investigation, all accounts linked to the first defendant was traced and it was then we discovered that the first defendant had received the total sum of $311,000 USD through his bank accounts with Standard Charter Bank and Polaris Bank.”
Musa also told the court that the second defendant, Alaba, who is a mother to the first defendant received over N50 million from the proceeds of the crime. Adding that the two convicts were arrested on September 6, 2019, after which their statements were taken.
The detective further told the court the first defendant used the sum of N34.8 million to buy property from Adron Homes & Properties Limited, in the name of the second defendant, his mother. And also the sum of N21.6 million traced to the account of Crystal High Homes and Properties in the name of their company, Great Mush Homes and Properties.
He further informed the court that the sum of N10 million, $24,585, N421,0000 was traced to the account of the second defendant domiciled in Polaris Bank. While one iPhone was recovered from the first defendant.
Upon conclusion of the review of the fact of the case, the prosecutor, Bilikisu Buhari, urged the court to admit the FBI’s petition, the defendants’ statements and the iPhone as exhibits, as well as convict the defendants as charged.
The defendants’ counsel, Mr Kayode Omoya, did not oppose the prosecution’s request. Consequently, the petition, defendants’ statements and the iPhone were admitted as exhibits B1 and B2.
The judge pronounced the defendants guilty of the charges against them.
Following the guilty pronouncement of the judge, the convicts’ counsel pleaded with the court to temper justice with mercy in sentencing his client, as they are first time offenders without a previous record of conviction.
The counsel told the court that the first convict is a graduate and the only child of the second convict who is a widow.
He also told the court that both the mother and the son have become remorseful and undertake not to engage in the act since they were arrested and being in custody for more than 40 days.
He pleaded with the court to give them a second chance so that they can go back to life, urging that they be given a fine option instead of a custodial sentence.
In sentencing the mother and son, Justice Aneke held: “I have carefully considered the plea for leniency of the counsel, Omoya. However, the court is mindful of the offences committed by the convicts, which has dented the image of the country both home and abroad. Everyone have has the duty to change the narrative.
“Consequently, this court sentence the first convict, Damilola Ahmed Adeyemi and the second convict, Alaba Kareem Adeyeri, to three years imprisonment in each count of count one, two, three and four.
“All the term shall run concurrently and starting from the date of arrest.”
After sentencing the convicts, the prosecutor urged the court to forfeit the sum of N38.8 million used in buy property with Adron Homes & Properties Limited; N21.6 million in Crystal High Homes account domiciled in Polaris bank, N10 million belonging to Alaba Kareem Adeyemi, domiciled in Polaris Bank, $24,585 and N421,329 belonging to Damilola and domiciled in Polaris Bank and the iPhone recovered from the first convict, Damilola to the Federal Government of Nigeria.
The prosecutor’s request was granted as Justice Aneke ordered the forfeiture of the funds and the iPhone to the Federal Government of Nigeria.