An Islamic cleric, Ganiu Awojobi, was on Thursday sentenced to two years in prison for defrauding a U.S-based businesswoman, Mrs Oluwatoyin Akinwole of N37.6 million.
Concise News reports that Awojobi was jailed by an Ikeja Special Offences Court.
‘Alfa’ Awojobi was convicted, following his re-arraignment after entering into a plea bargain agreement with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Awojobi, who was initially standing trial with a self- acclaimed oil marketer, Olufemi Adesanya, pleaded not guilty to an amended two-count charge of stealing and obtaining money by false pretence.
According to the EFCC, the duo allegedly defrauded Akinwole, leaked her nude pictures on social media and falsely claimed on social media that she had committed suicide by jumping into the Lagos lagoon from the Third Mainland Bridge in 2017.
During the re-arraignment, Awojobi, the second defendant, pleaded guilty but Adesanya, the first defendant still maintained his initial not guilty plea.
In his allocutus (plea for mercy), Goddy Osuyi, the Defence Counsel, told the court that Awojobi had pleaded with Akinwole, the complainant, to accept a four bedroom flat worth N13 million as compensation.
“Awojobi is now sober and has truly repented,’’ Osuyi said.
Delivering the judgment, Justice Mojisola Dada, said that Awojobi, as part of his plea bargain agreement, had agreed to forfeit the property, a four bedroom flat that he had acquired as proceed from the fraud.
She noted that the convict was initially arraigned on Nov. 8, 2018 and that the EFCC Prosecutor, Mr S.O. Daji, had already called four witnesses to testify against Awojobi.
The judge said: “I have listened to the allocutus of the second defence counsel, Osuyi, and have also considered the plea bargain agreement before the court.
“The second defendant is hereby sentenced to two years imprisonment as agreed in the plea bargain.
“The prison sentence should begin from the day of his remand by the court on November 8, 2018. This is the judgment of the court.’’
During the trial, Akinwole in her lengthy evidence against the defendants, said that the duo defrauded her of N71 million under the pretext of rendering special prayers for her and helping her to invest in crude oil business.
According to the woman, the defendants, after defrauding her, posted her nude pictures which they had extracted from her phone on social media.
She said they had also falsely claimed that she had committed suicide to deter and frustrate her from coming after them and seeking justice.
“My father even suffered stroke after seeing my nude pictures online. They deceived me into believing that I would get a 150 per cent profit after a month of investment.
“They kept extorting money from me with claims that the ports needed more money to perfect the transaction before releasing the oil.
“This made me borrow huge amounts from friends just to make the deal work,’’ she said.
Akinwole said she found out about the scam when an employee of Adesanya, (first defendant), called her and informed her that the defendants never invested her money in any oil business but rather used it to buy houses and exotic cars.
She said: “Adesanya’s employee told me his boss bought a house and five exotic cars while his friend, Awojobi bought a house and three cars. He told me to quickly come to Nigeria and arrest them.
“That was when I flew back to Nigeria and got Adesanya arrested but Awojobi ran away. Adesanya was arrested three times on different occasions but the police would always release him in less than 24-hours.
“I got so frustrated that I didn’t know what to do. So I called my lawyer to petition the EFCC and he did.
“Adesanya was finally arrested by the Osogbo Special Anti-Robbery Squad and handed over to the EFCC.
“He was also released on administrative bail by the EFCC. The second defendant was arrested a month later.
“It was after their release from custody that they uploaded my nude pictures on the internet and tagged my name, my husband, my children and my company.
“The pictures went viral because he also sent them to a Yoruba newspaper and other newspapers.
“They released those pictures on June 1, and thereafter, went to a blogger to report that I had jumped into the Lagos Lagoon.
“They did all that, simply to frustrate me from seeking justice and retrieving my money. But I was resolved because my husband stood by me all through the disgrace,’’ Akinwole said.
Dada adjourned the case until October 30 for continuation of the trial of Adesanya.