The Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) had on Thursday, October 10, 2019, arraigned seven suspected SIM Swap criminals in Kaduna as it also secured jail term for another suspected internet fraud
They are: Okafor Samuel Obinna, Chigbo Pascal Chidi, Oha Chukwujekwu, Ahamefula Francis Izuchukwu, Ugonna Nelson Owete, Ikenna Henry and Chinyere Aniobi Jessica.
They were arraigned on two counts bordering on conspiracy and obtaining by false pretence before Justice Mohammed Tukur of the Kaduna State High Court.
“Operatives of the EFCC had earlier in September, arrested six of them. They specialize in defrauding innocent Nigerians by using bank details obtained through their SIM cards swapped on Automated Teller Machine ATM”.
One of the 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 Judicial Division of the High Court of justice Kaduna State with the intent to defraud falsely obtained the sum of N2,911,480.00 (Two Million Nine Hundred and Eleven Thousand Four Hundred and Eighty Naira) from the Diamond Bank (now Access Bank)account of one Abdulrauf Bolaji, which was transferred after his SIM swap to several accounts under the pretence that the said sum was transferred by him, which you all knew to be false and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 1(1)(a) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offence Act, 2006 and punishable under Section 1(3) of the same Act.”
They pleaded “not guilty” to the charges, as counsel for the EFCC, S.H. Sa'ad urged the court to fix a date for commencement of the trial, and for the remand of the defendants in Correctional Service.
Counsel for the defence, Usman Liman, however, informed the court that his clients had opted for a plea bargain, and intended to change their plea to “guilty”.
In a short ruling, Justice Tukur ordered that six of them be remanded in Correctional Service custody, while Jessica should be remanded in EFCC custody due to her ill health and fixed October 11, 2019, for “hearing on the plea bargain application”.
Meanwhile, Justice Patricia Ajoku of the Federal High Court, Ibadan, on Wednesday, October 9, 2019, sentenced one Alabi Okikiola to 12 months in prison after finding him guilty of fraudulent impersonation in a criminal charge filed against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Ibadan zonal office.
The judge also ordered that four other suspected internet fraudsters be remanded in prison pending the determination of their bail applications.
The accused, according to a statement obtained from a verified facebook of the commission said Falade Fisayo Abimbola, Arowojobe Femi Oluwaseun, Akinsipe Olalekan Gayus, and Ezekiel Rotimi Akinyele were arraigned separately on different count charges bordering on obtaining money under false pretence, possession of fraudulent documents and money laundering.
“They all pleaded not guilty to their respective charges, prompting the prosecution counsel, Dr Ben Ubi and Babatunde Sonoiki, to pray the court for a trial date and order to remand them in prison custody”.
The trial judge adjourned to October 24 and November 27, 2019, for a hearing of bail application and trial of the case against Abimbola.
She also fixed October 22 and November 6, 2019, for an argument on Oluwaseun’s bail application and his trial respectively.
The court further adjourned to October 17 and 25, 2019, respectively for hearing of bail application and trial in Gayus’ matter, while slating Akinyele’s trial for October 18.
All the accused will remain in prison custody till their respective next adjourned dates.
While pronouncing Okikiola guilty of the one-count amended charge of criminal impersonation, Justice Ajoku held that the offence offended Section 22 (2)(b)(iv) of the Cybercrimes (Prohibition, Prevention etc) Act, 2015, and punishable under Section 22 (3) of the same Act.
“Apart from the one-year imprisonment, the convict, who pleaded guilty to the offence, was to restitute the sum of N60,000 (Sixty Thousand Naira) benefiting he derived from his fraudulent act”.
The Commission said he will also forfeit his laptop and charger, two Samsung hard drives, one iPhone 5 and one Nokia phone to the Federal Government of Nigeria.