By Hammed Shittu in Ilorin
A Kwara State High Court sitting in Ilorin on Tuesday sentenced an internet fraudster, Temitope Ajayi Charles, to 35 years imprisonment without an option of fine.
Delivering his ruling, Justice M. Abdulgafar said that the judgment was done based on a criminal charge brought against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
He pronounced the convict guilty and sentenced him to seven years on each of the five counts.
The presiding judge also said that the sentence should run concurrently in all the five counts levelled against him by the anti-graft body.
The judge also agreed that the EFCC had proved its case beyond reasonable doubt, noting that the evidence of the only prosecution witness, Olamide Sadiq, who is an operative of the commission was very strong and reliable.
Abdulgafar said: “The evidence of PW1, Olamide Sadiq, was left unchallenged by the defendant. All the chats and text messages were printed from his email address in his presence. I have considered the testimonies of the PW1. This honourable court is of the opinion that the PW1 is a witness of truth. The accused person indeed was in possession of fake documents, the prosecution has sufficiently link the defendant to the email address.”
He however rejected the testimonies of the convict where he claimed that the police brought him to the office of the EFCC on the day of his arrest following his inability to pay the money they requested.
According to him, “The story of the defendant of being sent to the EFCC because he did not pay bribe to the police could not hold water. He lied to the court, I do not believe the evidence of the defendant. The prosecution has proved this case beyond reasonable doubt, I hereby convict the defendant as charged.”
Earlier, the defence counsel, Mr. A.B Bakare, in his allocutus, urged Justice Abdulgafar to temper justice with mercy, insisting that his client is a first time offender.
The prosecuting counsel, Mr. Sessan Ola, opposed the request and asked the court to sentence the convict according to the provisions of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act.
Ola said: “Going by the provisions of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act, the minimum punishment for this type of offence is seven years and maximum of 20 years, the court can use its discretion outside the same.”
Justice Abdulgafar however refused the request of the convict and sentenced him to seven years each of the five counts.