The convicts Abdullahi Saidu Momoh, Godwin Boman Emmanuel, Samuel Godfrey Orudu and Anunobi Kyrian were jailed after pleading guilty to separate charges, all bordering on criminal impersonation and obtaining by false pretences.
One of the separate charges reads: “That you, Abdullahi Saidu Momoh “M”, sometime in 2022, within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court did fraudulently present yourself variously as Andrew Smith, Theo Hutchraft, Jjchang Wook on the Social media platforms; Instagram/Facebook to Sondry Rissell, Peggy Grabner with intent to gain advantage for yourself and thereby committed an offence to wit: Identity theft and impersonation, contrary to Section 22 (2) (b) (i) of the Cybercrimes (Prohibition, Prevention) Act 2015 and punishable under Section 22 (2) (b) (iv) of the same Act”.
Based on their “guilty” pleas, Counsel to the EFCC, Khamis Mahmud, prayed the court to convict and sentence them accordingly.
However, defence counsels Innocent Eze, Francis Ezike and Cyprian Afahanam, sued for leniency for the defendants.
Justice Oghoghorie, however, sentenced all four defendants to one year imprisonment each, without an option of fine. Orudu and Kyrian’s sentences are to run concurrently. The court also ordered Kyrian to restitute the sum of $500( Five Hundred United States Dollars) and Orudu the sum of N2,000,000. (Two Million Naira only) to the Federation Account. The court also ordered that items recovered from the convicts be forfeited to the Federal Government.
The convicts’ journey to the Correctional Centre started on August 29, 2023 when they were arrested by operatives of the Uyo Zonal Command of the Commission at Akwa Ima Estate in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, for internet-related offences. They were prosecuted and convicted.
In another vein, the Uyo Command arraigned the duo of Joseph Akadu Asukwo and Emmanuel Ekenedilichukwu Armstrong before Justice Maureen Adaobi Onyetenu of the Federal High Court, sitting in Uyo Akwa Ibom State.
While Asukwo was arraigned on a three-count charge bordering on criminal conversion and stealing to the tune of N12, 993, 600.00 (Twelve Million, Nine Hundred and Ninety-Three Thousand, Six Hundred Naira), Armstrong was arraigned on a four-count charge bordering on fraudulent impersonation, forgery and criminal diversion to the tune of $108, 762.5 (One Hundred and Eight Thousand, Seven Hundred and Sixty Two United States of American Dollars and Five Cents).
The defendants pleaded “not guilty” when the charges were read to them separately, and in view of their pleas, Counsel to the EFCC, Farida Bukar, prayed the court to fix a date for trial and for the defendants to be remanded at the Uyo Correctional Centre.
However, defence counsel, Michael Ishadu attempted an oral bail application, which did not succeed.
Justice Onyetenu remanded the defendants at the Uyo Correctional Centre, and adjourned the matter to October 26, 2023 for the hearing of bail applications.
Asukwo was arrested for criminal diversion of a company( Aimhye Integrated Concept Limited)’s funds, to the tune of N12, 993, 600.00 (Twelve Million, Nine Hundred and Ninety-Three Thousand, Six Hundred Naira only) while Armstrong was arrested on June 22, 2023 at Captain Iniobong Avenue at Osongama, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, for suspected online criminal activities