A Kwara State High Court in Ilorin on Tuesday sentenced an internet fraudster, Temitope Charles, to 35 years in prison without an option of fine.
The Presiding Judge, Justice Mahmud Abdulgafar, while delivering Judgement on a criminal charge brought against the convict by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), pronounced the convict guilty and sentenced him to seven years in prison on each of the five-count charge.
Abdulgafar directed that the prison sentence should run concurrently. The Judge agreed that EFCC had proved its case beyond reasonable doubt, noting that the evidence of the only prosecution witness, Olamide Sadiq, who is an operative of the commission, was very strong and reliable.
”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, the prosecution has sufficiently link the defendant to the email address,” Abdulgafar said.
Earlier, Defence Counsel, A.B Bakare, had urged the judge to temper justice with mercy, saying that his client was a first time offender. Prosecuting Counsel, Sessan Ola, opposed to the request and asked the court to sentence the convict according to the provisions of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Related Offences Act.
Ola said: “going by the provisions of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Related Offences Act, the minimum punishment for this type of offence is seven years and maximum of 20 years, the court can not use its discretion outside the same.”
The EFCC had arraigned Charles before the court on a five- count charge bordering on internet fraud, sometime in March. Charles was allegedly caught with some documents indicating that he wanted to defraud unsuspecting members of the public.
One of the five-count charge read: “the suspect, who is also known as Teresa Simon, was said to have been apprehended on February 28, 2019, in Ilorin in possession of documents containing false representation with intent to defraud, an offence said to be contrary to Sections 6 and 8 (b) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Related Offences Act,”