Justice M. Abdulgafar of a Kwara State High Court sitting in Ilorin today convicted and sentenced an internet fraudster, Ajayi Temitope Charles to 35 years in prison without an option of fine.
A statement from EFCC says Charles was first arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on March 13, 2019 for engaging in internet fraud.
One of the five count charges against him reads: “That you, Ajayi Temitope Charles, popularly known as Teresa Simons on or about the 27th of February, 2019, in Ilorin within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, with intent to defraud, had in your possession document, which you knew contained false pretence, and thereby, committed an offence contrary to Section 6 and 8(b) of the Advance Fee Fraud and other Fraud Related Offences Act, 2006 and punishable under Section 1(3) of the same Act.”
He had pleaded “not guilty” to the charges, prompting the commencement of his trial.
However, at the end of the trial, Justice Abdulgafar ruled that the EFCC proved its case against him, “beyond reasonable doubts”.
The trial judge held that: “The evidence of PW1, Olamide Sadiq was left unchallenged by the defendant, all the chats and text messages were printed from his email address in his presence.
“I have considered the testimonies of the PW1, this honourable court is of the opinion that the PW1 is a witness of truth, the Accused Person indeed was in possession of fake documents, and the prosecution has sufficiently linked the defendant to the email address.”
Delivering judgement, Justice Abdulgafar, further rejected as untrue, the testimony of the convict where he claimed that the Police brought him to the office of the EFCC on the day of his arrest following his inability to pay the money they requested for.
“The story of the defendant being sent to the EFCC because he did not pay bribe to the police could not hold water, he lied to the court, I do not believe the evidence of the defendant, and the prosecution has proved this case beyond reasonable doubt,” the trial judge said.
Thereafter, Justice Abdulgafar pronounced him guilty as charged.
Before sentencing, defence counsel, A.B. Bakare, in his allocutus, appealed for mercy, and urged the court to temper justice with mercy, stressing that his client was a first-time offender.
Counsel for the EFCC, Ola Sesan, however, opposed the request and urged the court to sentence him according to the provisions of the law.
“Going by the provisions of the Advance Fee Fraud and other Fraud Related Offences Act, the minimum punishment for this type of offence is seven years and maximum of 20 years, the court cannot use its discretion outside the same,” he said.
Justice Abdulgafar, thereafter, sentenced him to seven years in prison on each of the five counts. The sentence is to run concurrently.