Yusuf Salawu, 23, was given a five-year prison sentence by a high court of justice in Lokoja, the capital of Kogi State, for a crime that had elements of computer fraud.
The act violates section 354(2) of the Kogi State Administration of Criminal Justice Law of 2017 (ACJLKS, 2017), and it is a crime subject to punishment under section 320 of the State’s penal code.
His Lordship, Hon. Justice Josiah Joe Majebi, Chief Judge of the State and presiding Judge of the High Court One, rendered the decision in a summary trial in a case brought by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) with file number HCL/80C/2022.
During the presentation of the verdict, Justice Majebi also gave advice to other young people in the State on how to stay away from actions that could endanger their future.
According to him, courts in Kogi State would not hesitate to enforce the law against anyone who had committed a crime and been successfully shown to have done so.
After the defendant’s attorney begged with the court to exercise mercy because his client was a first-time offender who was already remorseful, dissatisfied, and regretted committing the offense, the judge issued the admonition.
The single charge of online fraud was read to the defendant by the prosecuting attorney for the EFCC, Andrew Akoja Esq., after which the defendant entered a guilty plea.
The charge’s summary reads, in part, “between 2021 and 2022 and at Lokoja, within the judicial division of the court, the prisoner did knowingly have under his control, the gross sum of N56.3m in his Access Bank account with number 0798947121.”
The aforementioned cash was a portion of the gross sum of N116.6m, which was allegedly obtained illegally, according to reasonable suspicion. According to the EFCC, Yusuf violated section 320 of the penal code and committed an offense.
It continues by saying that
“After being apprehended, he confessed to engaging in internet fraud between 2019 and 2020, when he began acting more as a picker. He typically selects money for numerous people who submit wire fraud account information, which is then converted to Naira and transferred into his Access Bank account, where he controls the sums.
He was found to have been using his Techno and Infinix phones, which are products or tools of his criminal activity.
However, “he has raised an Access Bank draft for N1,550,00:00 representing the balance in his account of the fraudulent sums he controlled using his account as well as the title document to plot No. 2A, Block 21, TPS 08 Extension, Peace Community, Lokoja, for N7.5m part of his crime (which) has also been recovered.”
The defendant entered a plea of guilty to the charge that was read to him, acknowledged that the offense had been committed, and attested to the veracity of its specific elements.
They are accurate. I had N56,317,760 (fifty-six million, three hundred and seventeen thousand, seven hundred and sixty naira) in my Access Bank account, which was a portion of the charge’s total of N116,685,719 (one hundred and sixteen million, six hundred and eighty-five thousand, seven hundred and nineteen naira).
I go to school. I got the money illegally, and I built a house with some of it that the EFCC has taken away from me. I am aware of the accusation and my defense. I continue to claim guilt.
Yusuf was a first-time offender, according to his attorney A. O. Jonathan Esq., who afterwards requested the court’s mercy.
But Justice Majebi granted the plea by finding the defendant guilty and giving him a light sentence in accordance with section 320 of the criminal code.
“The defendant is hereby found guilty of the offense under section 320 of the Kogi State penal code after entering a guilty plea to the charged offense.
“I have thoughtfully reviewed the defendant’s plea for a lesser sentence and will take that into consideration when I sentence the defendant,”
The judge ruled.