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A Federal High Court in Lagos on Wednesday sentenced a Wonder Bank operator, Godwin Nwaichie to 14 years imprisonment for defrauding several unsuspecting people at the Alaba International Market in Lagos to the tune of N9.8Billion.
The convict (Nwaichie) was charged before Justice Ibrahim Buba by the Special Fraud Unit (SFU) of the Nigerian Police alongside another accused, Fortune Etaba and their company, Establishment House Ltd, for fraudulently obtaining the said sum from several individuals. The judge sentenced Nwaichie, after he pleaded guilty to an amended three-count charge bordering on the offence.

“The convict, a 23-year-old man at the time of arrest, who ought to be vibrant and hardworking, decided to utilise his intelligence for fraud. “For such offence, the law provides a maximum of 20 years imprisonment and minimum of seven years.

“The convict is hereby sentenced to 14 years imprisonment beginning from January 9, 2010 when he was first arrested” Buba ruled.

The accused were first re-arraigned on January 21 on the amended charge.  Nwaichie had pleaded guilty to the charge, while the second accused (Etaba) pleaded not guilty.

Justice Buba had, however, refused to convict Nwaichie, after a review of the facts of the case, due to a conflict in his plea.

The accused had pleaded guilty to charge, but maintained that the amount of money he fraudulently obtained, was less than the sum reflected in the charge.

He said that the amount he obtained was N14,743,000.

The judge had therefore refused to convict him based on his plea.

At the resumed hearing of the case on Wednesday, the prosecutor Mr. Effiong Asuquo informed the court of an amended charge, having regularized it.  He therefore, prayed the court to re-arraign the accused. After re-arraignment, Nwaichie still maintained his guilty plea, and was thereafter sentenced by the judge.  Meanwhile, the judge admitted the other accused (Etaba) to bail in the sum of N500 million with two sureties in like sum. Buba also ordered the accused to submit his traveling documents to the courts, with an undertaking not to travel outside Lagos during the pendency of the case.

He adjourned the case to Feb. 21 for trial of Etaba. The accused were said to have committed the offence between June 2009 and December 2009. The prosecutor had told the court that the accused obtained various sums of money totaling N9.8 billion, from a number of people, especially businessmen at the Alaba International Market, Ojo, Lagos.

He said the accused misrepresented to the individuals that they will get back 50 per cent of their deposits after 21 days.

According to the prosecutor, the accused could not repay either the deposited sum, or the “multiplied sum” as represented.

He said the offence contravened the provisions of sections 1 (1) (a), 8, and 2 of the Advanced Fee Fraud and other Fraud Related Offences Act, 2004.

DSP NGOZI ISINTUME-AGU
Police Public Relations Officer
For: Commissioner of Police
Special Fraud Unit
Ikoyi – Lagos.

Source: SAHARA REPORTERS.

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