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Benin NBA Battles State At Mobile Court, Rescue 2, 3 Unlucky

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As part of it pro bono service to the members of the public and fight against human rights abuse, the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), Benin Branch, Tuesday, April 28 made sudden appearance at Uroukpota mobile court, Benin, to defend five persons who were accused of violating the curfew imposed by Edo State government.

The state government had on Sunday imposed a statewide dusk-to-dawn curfew, which commenced on Monday from 7p.m. to 6a.m. daily.

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The defendants, Success Peter, 32,
Peace Doonior, 25, Tunde Mustapha, 35, Monday Ukpowa, 38 and one were accused of violating the curfew imposed by the state government.

Police prosecutor, Linda said three of the defendants were arrested while driving on the highway around 7:55p.m.

READ ALSO: Lockdown: Mobile Court Sentences 5 For Mask, Curfew Violation

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She further said the other two of the defendants were arrested inside a brothel located at Erediawa street, Benin City, at around 8:00pm in the night.

She told the court that the offence contravened the movement restriction order put in place by the state government.

The accused, however, all pleaded not guilty to the charge level against them.

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Doonior and Success told the court that they were in their Hotel room at Erediawa street when some police men bursted into their room and arrested them.

READ ALSO: 29 Persons Convicted For Violating Curfew In Benin

The duo told the court that the police prosecutor who claimed to be among the squad that made the arrest was not actually there, adding that they were sighting her for the first time.

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Barrister Douglas Ogbankwa, lead counsel to the defendants, and also Public Relations Officer of NBA Task Force on CIVID-19 prayed the court to strike out the charge on no case basis.

He argued that there was no any report or investigation from the prosecutor as of why his clients were arrested, and that there is no where in the Edo State ‘Infectious Diseases (Emergency Prevention) Regulations 2020’, where it’s forbidden that two persons cannot stay in a Hotel, hence the case should be struck out.

On the other hand, defending other three persons who were accused of driving on the high during the curfew hours, Barrister Dennis Osaritin, argued that there was contradiction between the charge file and the evidence as presented by the prosecutor.

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READ ALSO: Mobile Court Sentences 29 For Mask, Curfew Violation In Edo

He told the court that his clients were arrested 6:15pm as against the claim by the prosecutor, adding that the three defendants were arrested separately as against claim that they were arrest together on the highway inside a vehicle.

He further argued that going by the contradictions and lies in the charge and the evidence, it will be difficult to rely on such and do justice to the charge hence the charge should be struck out.

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Barr. Orobosa Okunbo, State Counsel, however, argued that the case should not be base on charge and evidence, stressing that it’s just an emergency court and not the rugular court where such is taken into cogniaance.

Magistrate Friday Okunbo, find the three suspects guilty of the offence and thereafter convicted them of same offence.

READ ALSO: COVID-19: Edo C.J. Frees Another 11 Inmates From Benin Custodial Centre

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He sentenced the three offenders who violated the state curfew to two days non-custodial community service with the option of payment of N5,000 fine each.

Barrister Matthew Edaghese, chairman of the NBA Task Force however pleaded to the Magistrate to temper justice with mercy by allowing them to go free, stressing that they must have learnt there lessons with their stay in police custody since the previous day.

Magistrate Okunbo therefore reduced the community service to one day or an option of N3,000 fan payment each, he added that this was to serve as a deterrent to others.

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Magistrate Okunbo, however, struck out the charge leveled against Success and Doonior (1st and 2nd defendants respectively) on ‘no case ground’.

Mobile Court set up by Edo State government to hear cases of violation of the Edo State Infectious Diseases (Emergency Prevention) Regulations 2020’, has sentencing violators virtually on daily basis until the NBA came to the rescue of these ones.

READ ALSO: COVID-19: Edo CJ Frees 11 Inmates From Correctional Centre

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The NBA Task Force that made the appearance was led by Barr. Matthew Edaghese, chairman of the Task Force; Barr. Douglas Ogbankwa, PRO; Barr. Dennis Osaritin; Barr. Victoria, etc.

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Court Jails UK Ex-convict One Year For Defrauding Hotel

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Justice Mojisola Dada of the Ikeja Special Offences Court, Lagos, on Friday sentenced a United Kingdom ex-convict, Ahmed Adebola, to one year imprisonment for defrauding Radisson Blu Hotel of N4.4 million.

Justice Dada sentenced the defendant after he pleaded guilty to an amended one count of obtaining by false pretence, offence which contravenes Section 312 of the Criminal Laws of Lagos State, 2011.

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission had, on May 30, charged the convict on an amended one count of obtaining by false pretence.

The EFCC counsel, Ahmed Yerima, said that the Radisson Blu Hotel Management wrote a petition against the defendant to the commission, after he defrauded the hotel of the sum of N4.4million.

The prosecution submitted that the EFCC received a report from the hotel sometime in December 2020 and alleged that the defendant, who had lodged in their facility, off and on, made payments through credit cards and American Express in favour of the hotel and the payments were recalled by the unified payment system.

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Yerima said, “Based on the information gotten between December 15 and 16, 2020, the defendant checked into the hotel again and was arrested based on the earlier allegations against him.

READ ALSO: JUST IN: Money Laundering: Court Sentences Delta Senator To Seven Years In Jail

“A search was conducted on him and nine different credit cards, bearing different names, were recovered from him in which six out of the nine were American Express.

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“Two United Kingdom driver licences were recovered from him at the point of arrest, all of which contained the same information, including the picture of the defendant and the only difference was the name.

“The defendant said that the cards were given to him by one Jim Collins, whom he met in the UK and he was aware that the credit cards were not legally issued and that he did not know the owners of the card.”

The prosecution further said that an investigation was extended to the National Crimes Agency in the United Kingdom to confirm the authenticity of the cards, the driver licences and the criminal record of the defendant, if any existed.

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“The team received a response from the NCA stating that the driver licences were forged documents, including the credit card.

“The NCA also said that the defendant was sentenced to 15 months imprisonment in the UK for offences bordering on fraudulent bank card, motoring offences and others which later resulted in his deportation,” the prosecution said.

Delivering judgement, Justice Dada sentenced the defendant to one year imprisonment.

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Dada said, “The defendant is hereby sentenced to one year jail term, having been on bail till now or pay an option of fine of N2 million.

“All the items recovered from him is hereby forfeited to the Federal Government and must write an understatement never to go back to the same crime again.”

PUNCH

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Nigerian Jailed 235 years For N525m, €64,000 Fraud, Loses Lekki Houses

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Justice Agatha Okeke of the Federal High Court, Uyo, has convicted and sentenced Scales Olatunji.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) labelled him “a notorious international fraudster”.

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The convict bagged 235 years imprisonment for internet fraud and money laundering.

Olatunji pleaded “not guilty” after arraignment in July 2019 on 45-count charges.

One reads: “That you, Scales Olatunji Ishola “M”, Meraiyebu Charles “M”(at large), Gabriel Adeyemi Olugbenga “M”(at large), Ojomo Oluwatobi Ayodele “M”(at large) and Adekola Oluwatoyin “M”(at large), between January 2017 to October 2018 converted N525,172,580”.

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The theft of the funds, which formed part of proceeds of unlawful activities to wit: fraud (Business E-mail Compromise and Identity Theft), violated Section 18 (a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 (as amended) and punishable under Section 15 (3) of the same Act.

Also, Olatunji on or about May 15, 2018, sent electronic messages (email) using emailoffice01@aol.com to one Monica Goulmoen of the Charity Association for providing girls and boys in Kobane with a football pitch.

He impersonated Per Ravn Omdal, a former Norwegian Football Association President, demanded and received €64,000.

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The offence negates offence contrary to Section 22 (3)(b) of the Cybercrimes (Prohibition, Prevention, etc) Act 2015 and punishable under Section 22 (4) of the same Act.

Delivering judgment, Justice Okeke convicted Olatunji on all the 45- counts preferred against him by the EFCC.

The judge said the evidence of the prosecution witnesses were consistent and the prosecution established his guilt.

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READ ALSO: N25.7bn Fraud: Appeal Court Affirms Ex-bank Boss’ Conviction, Reduces Jail Term

The prosecution was also able to establish the offence of cybercrime as it relates to count six to forty five of the charges.

The judge sentenced Olatunji to seven years imprisonment on counts one to five, and five years imprisonment on counts six to forty-five.

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The sentence shall run from the date of arrest. The money in his account will be sent to the affected Norwegian citizens through the EFCC.

Olatunji’s properties in Lekki: House No. 6, Road 2 West-end Estate in Ikota and House No. 10, Donatus Odum Street, Ikate are to be sold and the proceeds restituted to the victims.

The EFCC commenced a probe after the convict was caught on March 20, 2019 at his Ikota residence. The action followed a petition from the Oslo Police District in Norway.

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N25.7bn Fraud: Appeal Court Affirms Ex-bank Boss’ Conviction, Reduces Jail Term

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The Court of Appeal sitting in Lagos on Thursday affirmed the conviction of former Managing Director of defunct Bank PHB Plc, Francis Atuche, for N25.7bn fraud but reduced his sentence of 12 years to six years.

The court also affirmed the conviction of Atuche’s co-convict Ugo Anyanwu, who was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment by the lower court for stealing and conspiracy to steal.

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Anyanwu’s jail term was also reduced to eight years.

Justice Lateefa Okunnu of the Lagos State High Court sitting at Ikeja had on June 16, 2021, sentenced Atuche, to 12 years’ imprisonment for N25.7bn fraud in the bank.

READ ALSO: JUST IN: FG Reverses Nigeria’s Ban From Basketball Competition

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While his former Chief Financial Officer, Ugo Anyanwu, was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment for stealing and conspiracy to steal and Atuche’s wife, Elizabeth, was discharged and acquitted.

But dissatisfied with the judgement of the lower court, Atuche approached the court of Appeal to challenge the judgment.

Details later…

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