BBC

A Lagos Federal High Court, presided over by Justice Ibrahim Buba, Thursday, convicted three businessmen, to a total of 72 years imprisonment for defrauding a company of N187 million.

The convicts are: Uwem Ntia, Isa Hassan and Mfom Iniunam.

Justice Buba also ordered that the two companies, Kafisto Oil and Gas Limited and M4 Connections Nigeria Limited, used in perpetrating the fraud be forfeited to the Federal Government.

He said that the prosecution had successfully proved its case against all the convicts beyond every reasonable doubt.

Describing the convicts as ‘grand crooks’, the judge said the prosecution have been able to convince the court that there is credible evidence on all the counts of the charge against the convicts.

Following the judge’s verdict, their lawyers, who include: Sylvester Effiong, Akinde Idide and Roy Bassey, for Ntia and his companies: Kafisto Oil and Gas Limited and M4 Connections Nigeria Limited, Hassan and Iniunam, respectively, pleaded with the court to tamper justice with mercy in sentencing them.

But prosecutor, CSP Jackson, urged the court to ignore the pleadings of the accused and sentence them as required by the sections of the Advance Fee Fraud (AFF) 2006.

Justice Buba sentenced the first convict, Ntia and his companies to 10 years each on charges of conspiracy and obtaining under false pretence,while the second and third convicts, Hassan and Iniunam were given seven years each on charges of conspiracy, obtaining under false pretence and fraud.

The judge also ordered that all the assets of the convicted companies be forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria.

He, however, ordered that jail terms of the first convict, Ntia is to commence from January 29, 2016, while the second convict, Hasaan, will commence from June 28, less the days he spent in detention, and that of third convict, Iniunam, is to start from November 18, 2015.

The judge also ordered that the jail terms shall run concurrently.

Count one of the charge against the convicts reads: “That you Uwem Ntia,‘ m’, Isa Hassan‘ m’, Kahsto Oil & Gas Nig. Ltd, M4 Connections Nigeria Limited and Mfom Iniunam, on or about the 4th day of December 2014, at No. 5, Ogun Street, Osborne Foreshore Estate, Ikoyi, Lagos, and Union Bank of Nig. Pic Office, Marina Lagos, within the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court, conspired with Olayemi Ajileye David‘ m’ (at large), Alhaji Suleiman Yerima, m (now deceased) and Reagan Akaiso,‘ m’ at large to commit an offence, to wit: obtaining the sum of N187 million by false pretence; and thereby committed an offence contrary to section 8(a) of Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act, 2006 and punishable under section 1(3) of the same Act.

Count two reads: “That you Uwem Ntia‘ m’, Isa, Hassan ‘m’, Kafisto Oil & Gas Nigeria Ltd, M4 Connecdons Nigeria Ltd, Mfom Iniunam, Olayemi Ajileye (at large) and Reagan Akaiso, (at large) on or about the 4th day of December, 2014, at No. 5, Ogun Street, Osborne Foreshore Estate Ikoyi, Lagos and Union Bank of Nigeria Plc Office, Marina Lagos within the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court, by false pretence and with intent to defraud, obtained the sum of N183 million Property of DASHAD & CO. LTD, by falsely representing to the said Dashad & Co Ltd, through its agents and staff that you had United States of America Dollars for sale and thereby induced Dashad & Co. through its agents and staff, to deliver sum of N183 million, for you to transfer the dollar equivalence of the money to its bank account, which money you fraudulently converted to your own use and to the use the benefit of others, and thereby committed an offence punishable under section 1(3) of the Advance Fee Fraud and other Fraud Related Offences Act, 2006.

The three convicts were arraigned before the court by Special Fraud Unit (SFU) of Nigeria Police Force, Ikoyi-Lagos, on three counts charges of conspiracy, obtaining under false pretence and fraud, sometimes in 2015.

According to the charge,the three convicts, and Olayemi Ajileye David, and Reagan Akaiso (now at large) and Alhaji Sulaiman Yerima (now deceased), conspired among themselves and fraudulently obtain the sum of N187 million from Dashad and Company Limited, under false pretence that they will supply the company America Dollars equivalent.

They were also said to have obtained the said money from their victims at 5, Ogun Street, Osborne Foreshore Estate, Ikoyi, and at Marina Branch of Union Bank of Nigeria Plc, all in Lagos State.

The offences according to the prosecutor, Mr. E. A. Jackson, a Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP), are contrary to Section 8(a) of the Advance Fee Fraud Act, 2006, and punishable under Section 1(3) of the act.

The convicts have pleaded not guilty to all the charges.

During their trial, the prosecutor had called many witnesses, among who are officials of the defrauded company, and also tendered several documentary evidences, which were admitted by the court.

At the close of the prosecution case, all the convicts, filed no-case-submissions, which were dismissed by the court. And upon the dismissal of no-case-submissions, they all opened their defence.

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