A sixty-year-old man, Charles Jide-Oni, who claimed to be a professor and lecturer at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, Osun State, has been arraigned before a Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos State.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) said in a statement on Thursday that Jide-Oni was arraigned for allegedly obtaining money under false pretence and engaging in advance fee fraud.
EFCC’s Head of Media and Publicity, Mr Wilson Uwujaren, said the anti-graft agency’s Ibadan zonal office brought the ‘professor’ and 12 other internet fraud suspects before Justice Nicholas Oweibo, the Federal High Court vacation judge for the south-west zone on Wednesday.
He explained that Jide-Oni’s arraignment was sequel to the EFCC’s findings of the activities of an illegal financial outfit he reportedly floated through which he allegedly swindled his victims of several millions of naira.
Some of the victims had earlier written a petition to the Commission which led to the investigations that indicted the suspect in the alleged fraudulent act, Uwujaren said.
Among the other suspects arraigned include Olaleye Kolapo, Madukife Azuka, Fatanmi Sunday, Adebayo Adeyinka, Adeleke Peter, and Adebowale Fadairo.
Others are Oyewunmi Michael, Bello Arikalam, Owolabi Toluope, Abdullahi Oluwatobi, Temitope Fatolu, and Adesina Adewale.
Uwujaren said Fatolu, however, opted for a plea bargain and pleaded guilty to a one-count amended charge of fraudulent impersonation when he was presented before the court.
He was subsequently sentenced to one-year imprisonment with effect from June 20, 2019, when he was arrested.
Fatolu, according to the EFCC spokesman, was also asked to return $500 through the Nigerian Government, to his victim and to equally forfeit his two smartphones and a laptop computer to the Federal government, being part of the benefit he derived from his fraudulent act.
On the other hand, Justice Oweibo granted Jide-Oni bail to the tune of N10 million and two sureties in like sum after his lawyer filed and argued a bail application on his behalf.
The sureties, the court held, must be of Grade Level 10 in the civil service and must be resident in Osogbo, the Osun State capital.
The judge also ordered that the accused person be remanded in Ilesha prison, pending the time he would fulfill his bail conditions while the substantive hearing was adjourned until October 14.
Unlike Fatolu, the other 11 suspects, who were charged with sundry internet-related offences including obtaining money by false pretence, impersonation, being in possession of forged and fraudulent documents to defraud people, pleaded not guilty to the respective charges preferred against them.
Consequent upon their not-guilty plea, EFCC’s counsel, Dr Ben Ubi, urged the court for an order to remand them in prison and fix dates for the hearing of their cases.
Justice Oweibo granted the remand prayer, and also fixed different dates for the hearings.
He fixed October 7 for the hearing of cases involving Fatami, Adeleke, and Fadairo and ordered that they be remanded in the Ilesha prison.
“Olaleye and Azkuka are to be remanded in Ado-Ekiti prison till October 9 when their cases will be opened for hearing,” Uwujaren said.
He added, “For Abdullahi, Oyewunmi and Bello, the hearings would hold on October 14. They are ordered to take shelter in Ilesha prison till then.”
The judge equally fixed October 15 and 21 for hearing of the cases involving Adesina and Owolabi respectively while both men would be remanded in Ilesha prison pending the adjourned date.
Adebayo was, however, returned to the EFCC’s custody.