Two fraudsters, who operates illegal and unregistered Bureau De Change (BDC) Uju Peace Iziogu and Mr Richard Owegie, were today, convicted by a Federal High Court, Lagos, for defrauding their victims to a whooping sum of N162 million.
The two illegal BDC operators were convicted alongside their company, Reoworld Enterprises Limited of the three counts charge of conspiracy, obtaining by false pretence and fraud of the mentioned amount, made against the by the Police Special Fraud Unit (PSFU) Ikoyi, Lagos, by ustice Ayokunle Faji, after finding them guilty of the allegations.
Justice Faji, while convicting the two fraudsters and their company, said that he was satisfied that the prosecution has proved the case of the three count charge against the defendants, beyond every reasonable doubts.
Justice Faji however, adjourned the matter till December 4 , 2020 for convicts’ allocutor and sentencing.
The convicts alongside their unregistered company, Reoworld Enterprises Limited, were charged to court sometimes in September 2017, for defrauding their victims, mostly traders, to tune of N162m under the false pretence of assisting them to transfer money to China, Dubai and Turkey, but ended up defrauding their victims.
PSFU in the charge marked FHC/L/295c/17 and filed before Court, through its counsel, Mr Emmanuel Jackson, a Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP) alleged that the convicts, by false pretence, fraudulently obtaining, receiving and retaining the proceeds of fraud.
Count one of the charge against the convicts read: “That you Uju Peace Iziogu, alongside Richard and Reoworld Enterprises between January and May 2016, conspired among yourselves to fraudulently obtained the sum of N162 million from a lawyer, Nwosu Maduabuchi, under the pretence that they will assist him in sending it to his clients in China, Dubai and Turkey, for the payment of goods he ordered for.
While the second convict, Richard, was alleged to have aided the first convict, Uju, to obtain the said N162 million from Barrister Nwosu, who sourced the money from his different clients, and allow his Diamond Bank account to be used to receive and retain the money, and later diverted and disbursed it to third parties on the instructions of the first accused.
The offences are said to be contrary to and punishable under sections 8(a) and 1(3), and 1(a) and 1(3) of the Advance Fee Fraud and other Fraud Related Offences Act No. 14 of 2014.
Their lawyer, E. O. Okoli, in his allocutus, after his clients have been convicted, urged the court to take into consideration the length of time the first convict, Uju, has spent in custody. While saying that the second convict, acted ignorantly. He also urged the court to consider the length of time Owegie has spent in custody.
However, the prosecutor, CSP Jackson, in his submission told the court that the Uju is still facing another charge of obtaining under false pretence before the Federal High Court.
Jackson urged the court that in it’s sentence, it should strike a balance between the convicts and their victims who have been taken out of business for the past four years.
Jackson said these are young men who are trying to find their feet in a very harsh environment, but were swindled of their hard earned money.
The prosecutor also reminded the court that it has the power to make an order of restitution to the tune of N121, 960.00 which the convicts have admitted in favour of their victims. While urging the court to invoke section 11 of the Advance Fee Fraud Act, Section 10 ( sub 2) of the same Act in respect of a convicted corporate body which stipulate the winding up of such corporate organisation and forfeiture if it’s assets.
Jackson further submitted that by Section 1 ( sub 3) of the Advance Fee Fraud Act and the various judgements of the Supreme Court , no court has the discretion to go below the minimum punishment prescribes by the law.
Meanwhile, Justice Faji has adjourned the matter till December 4, 2020 to enable Mr. Okoli, counsel to Uju, to make further allocutus following his submission that his client has health issues.