By Adenike Ayodele
An Ikeja Special Offences Court has sentenced a businessman, Hilary Ogbobe, to 10 years imprisonment for obtaining N12.4 million by false pretence.
Justice Mojisola Dada, however, discharged and acquitted the convict’s wife, Dorothy, of accessory after the fact to a misdemeanour and held that the allegation was incomplete.
Dada held that the crimes already proved against the first and third defendants were not misdemeanor but clear felonies.
The judge held that the charge against her fails and she was consequently discharge and acquitted.
Dada held that the elements of stealing under Section 278 (2) (f) of the Criminal Law of Lagos State supra, are well established against Ogbobe.
According to her, the total money which was fraudulently obtained from the complainant might have been fully paid back but it was not proved in the case.
The judgement said: “It is obvious that the defendants deceived the complainant in obtaining his money under false pretence and fraudulently converted same to their personal use with the intention to permanently deprive him of the totality of money.
“The first defendant go beyond breach of contract for which they should be liable to pay the N10 Million profit alleged therein as profit.
“The first defendant is hereby found guilty as charged of the two-count the and he is hereby sentenced to seven years imprisonment on count one which is the minimum prescribed under Section 1 of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Related Offences Act supra.
“On count two, the first defendant is sentenced to three years imprisonment.”
Dada, however, said the sentencing should running concurrently.
The court ordered the convict’s company be wound up and all its assets and properties forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria after full restitution to the nominal complainant.
The company was also ordered to pay a fine of N5 million within 30 days of the judgment.
The couple were charged alongside their company, Marine Mayor Ltd., on a three-count charge of conspiracy to obtain, obtaining money by false pretence and accessory after the fact to a misdemeanour.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had arraigned the couple on March 15, 2019, and the prosecution called two witnesses who testified against the defendants.
The prosecution witness, (PW1)’ Ezugwu Aniebonan, in his evidence, narrated to court how Ogbobe fraudulently obtained the money from him through his company Zenith Bank account.
Aniebonan said: “He called me and told me there is a Dreger for sale by Lagos State Government and UBA that he want to buy and scrap that I should help him to raise N12million and that he would raise N8 million.
“On July 22, 2016, I paid N2million into his account with Zenith Bank Account name.
“In Aug. 12, 2016, I paid another N5million into his account and then called to inform him and he told me that he was in Enugu and when he comes back we shall see.
“When Ogbobe came back, he told him that the Dredger had been sold to another person and then said he had used part of the money.
The event was traumatic for me because there was much pressure from the person I got the money from.
“Ogbobe did not assent to our agreements as the money was not paid back to me and his body language and attitude was that I can not do anything.”
The offences contravened section 8(a) and 1 (3) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Related Offences Act, 2006 and 414 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2015. (NAN)