By Bola Owolola
Justice Simon Amobeda of the Federal High Court sitting in Calabar, Cross River State, on Thursday, June 26, 2019, sentenced a notorious yahoo yahoo kingpin, Akpojivi Onoriode, who was arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on a one-count charge bordering on cybercrime.
The convict, a 29-year-old graduate of Delta State University, Abraka and a father of two, was arrested by operatives of the Uyo Zonal Office of the Commission in the early hours of Saturday, May 4, 2019, following intelligence report exposing him of living above his means. He was picked up at his lavishly furnished duplex on Plot 10, Block VI, Unical Satellite Town, Calabar, Cross River State.
Upon his arrest, the convict popularly known as “Blinks” or “Mr. White”, confessed to having offshore accounts in China, and narrated how he started the business of defrauding people quite early, while he was still an undergraduate at Delta State University, Abraka in Delta State.
The charge against Akpojivi reads: “That you, Onoriode Joel Akpojivi, on or about the 4th day of May 2019, in Nigeria within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court did unlawfully produce, supply, procure for use and distributed a computer program (fake online banking link platform) designed for the purpose of electronically defrauding unsuspecting persons and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 28 (1) (a) of the Cybercrimes (Prohibition, Prevention Etc) Act 2015 and punishable under Section (1) (c) of the same Act.”
Shocked by the weight of evidence gathered against him by the EFCC, Akpojivi chose not to waste the time of the court as he pleaded “guilty” to the charge.
In view of his plea, counsel for the EFCC, A.S. Abuh, informed the court of a plea bargain arrangement entered between the convict and the Commission, dated June 19, 2019 and filed on June 20, 2019.
“I hereby pray the court to convict and sentence him based on the terms of the agreement,” she said.
Delivering judgment, Justice Amobeda held that: “It is a known fact that crimes of this nature appear now to be prevalent in our time. I do hereby sentence the convict to 6 months imprisonment with an option of fine of N500,000.
“The convict shall forfeit to the Federal Government of Nigeria the instruments used in the commission of the offence being thus: Acura ZDX with registration number SMK 245 DQ (Lagos), Range Rover Envogue with registration number FST 772 EQ (Lagos), Mercedes Benz E 300 with registration number LSD 393 EG (Lagos) and the seven bedroom duplex situated at Victory Way Extension, Satellite Town, Calabar, Cross River State.”
Earlier, Justice Amobeda convicted another graduate of Delta State University, Abraka, Obabueki Philips, who was equally arraigned by the anti-graft agency on a one-count charge bordering on impersonation and cybercrime.
When Obabueki was arrested, he admitted that his area of specialisation was impersonation, and that he sends out fraudulent emails to defraud his victims.
A forensic analysis of his laptop led to the recovery of quite a number of highly incriminating scam documents that further indicted him of the crime.
The charge to which Obabueki pleaded guilty to reads: “That you, Obabueki Eromosele Philips, (aka Leo Sim) ‘m’ on or about the 30th day of May, 2019 in Nigeria within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court did fraudulently impersonate one Leo Sim, with intent to obtain property from unsuspecting persons, the pretence you knew to be false and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 22 (2) (b) (ii) of the Cybercrime (Prohibition and Prevention, Etc) Act, 2015 and punishable under Section 22 (2) (b) (iv) of the same Act.”
In view of his guilty plea, Abuh informed the court of the plea bargain arrangement entered between the Commission and the convict and also prayed the court to convict and sentence him based on the agreements therein.
The court thereafter sentenced him to six months imprisonment with an option of fine of N50,000.