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West Africa

Fake pilgrims’ boss jailed 28 years for N12m fraud

A Federal High Court sitting in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, has sentenced one Mohammad Halim Ogbobio to 28 years’ imprisonment for his involvement in a N12m scam.

 

The convict was said to have paraded himself as the coordinator of the Bayelsa State Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Board and used the position to obtain the said amount from unsuspecting members of the public.

 

Ogbobio was arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on March 19, 2020, on five counts bordering on forgery and obtaining money by false pretence.

A statement by the Port Harcourt Zonal Office of the EFCC indicated that Ogbobio’s victims were allegedly introduced to the convict by one Adodo Yusuf Oristsegbubemi.

 

The victims, according to the statement, paid the convict a total of N12,130,000 for slots in a bogus 2012 hajj.

 

While the victims failed to make it to that year’s hajj, efforts for them (victims) to retrieve their money were not successful.

 

One of the counts read, “That you, Muhammad Halim Ogbobio, and others now at large, on the 3rd day of September 2012 at Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, with intent to defraud, did obtain the sum of N6,700,000 from one Ibrahim Abdullahi Paisa, which the said sum was paid into your Skye Bank account No. 1010839270 under the pretence that you are one of the coordinators of the 2012 hajj, a pretence you knew to be false and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 1 (1) (a) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act 2006 and punishable under 1 (3)of the same Act.”

The defendant, however, pleaded not guilty to the charges, signalling the commencement of full trial.

Delivering his judgment on May 8, Justice J. E. Iyang sentenced Ogbobio to seven years’ imprisonment each on counts 2, 3, 4 and 5.

The sentences are to run concurrently from March 19, 2015, the date he was arraigned, just as he was acquitted on count one.

Meanwhile, the EFCC, Port Harcourt Zonal Office, has returned the sum of $4,040 to a Brazilian victim of Internet fraud, Debora Moreira.

The amount, according to a statement by the EFCC, was recovered on her behalf by the anti-graft agency.

The money was said to have been obtained from Moreira by one Emmanuel Tope, a convicted fraudster, in a romance scam.

EFCC’s investigation, which was said to have commenced in March 2019, not only led to the recovery of the sum, the culprit was successfully prosecuted and convicted.

The proceed of crime was remitted into the victim’s account with Bank Itau S/A, Rua Ameirico Brasiliense, through the Central Bank of Nigeria.

 

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