Justice Efe Ikponmwonba of the Edo State High Court sitting in Benin- City on Thursday May 19, 2022, convicted and sentenced two internet fraudsters : Eghaghe Etinosa and Osaretin Kelly to four years imprisonment, for defrauding their victims a total sum of N1,321,273,278 (One Billion, Three Hundred and Twenty One Million, Two Hundred and Seventy Three Thousand, Two Hundred and Seventy Eight Naira).
They were arraigned on one –count separate charge by the Benin Zonal Command of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Etinosa was docked for serving as a picker “aka Aza man,” (receiver of funds) for internet fraudsters. On his part, Kelly impersonated the identity of one Dottie Ayanda, a South African woman in order to defraud his victims.
The charge against Etinosa read: “that you Eghaghe Etinosa between April 2020 to March 28, 2022 in Benin City , Edo State within the jurisdiction of this honourable court did transfer the aggregate sum of N1,321,273,278 (One Billion, Three Hundred and Twenty One Million, Two Hundred and Seventy Three Thousand, Two Hundred and Seventy Eight Naira) from your Fidelity Bank account number: 6323638710 to different accounts belonging to different persons knowing that same represent proceeds of the recipients criminal conduct to wit: Cybercrime and thereby committed an offence contrary to Sec 17(a) of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission ( Establishment) Act 2004 and punishable under Section 17(b) of the same Act.
Upon arraignment, the defendants pleaded “guilty” to the charge, prompting prosecution counsels: K.U. Udus and Austin Ozigbu to pray the court to convict and sentence them accordingly. However, counsel to the defendants, C.B. Ogbegbani prayed the court “to temper justice with mercy as the defendants have become remorseful”.
Justice Ikponmwonba convicted and sentenced Etinosa to three (3) years imprisonment, with an option of fine of N700,000( Seven Hundred Thousand Naira) while Kelly was convicted and sentenced to one year imprisonment or a fine of N100,000 ( One Hundred Thousand Naira).
Justice Ikponmwonba also ordered the forfeiture of a Toyota Hilux 2014 model , a land measuring 100 × 100 feet in a community in Benin, an Apple laptop, two iphone 13 recovered from Etinosa to the Federal Government of Nigeria while his Fidelity Bank account used in the commission of the offence be closed.
The convicts’ journey to the Correctional Centre started when operatives of the Benin Zonal Command of the EFCC arrested them in connection with internet-related offences. Further investigations showed that Etinosa was serving as a picker (receiver of funds) for internet fraudsters across the Benin-city environment while Kelly plied his own fraudulent activities by impersonating the identity of one Dottie Ayanda, a South African woman in order to defraud his victims.