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Governor Dapo Abiodun Aide Sentence To 5yrs Imprisonment for Wire Fraud

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Abidemi Rufai, the suspended aide of the Ogun State Governor, Dapo Abiodun, has been sentenced to five years imprisonment for wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.

A District Court in Western Tacoma, Washington, United States, gave the verdict yesterday.

A statement by the United States Attorney’s Office, Western District of Washington, confirmed the development.

The statement said that Rufai, “A 45-year-old resident of Lekki, Nigeria, was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Tacoma to five years in prison for wire fraud and aggravated identity theft for his attempt to steal nearly $2.4m from the United States government, including approximately $500,000 in pandemic-related unemployment benefits, announced U.S. Attorney Nick Brown.”

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Until his arrest, Rufai was a Special Assistant to the Ogun State Governor.

The statement, however, said he admitted a long history of using stolen identities to defraud U.S. disaster programs, including aid for Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, and file fraudulent U.S. tax returns.

At the sentencing hearing, U.S. District Judge, Benjamin Settle, said the motivation was greed, unrestrained greed, and callousness towards those who have suffered.

According to U.S. Attorney Nick Brown, Mr. Rufai was relentless in his scheme to use the stolen identities of Americans for fraud.

“He orchestrated ‘mystery shopper’ scams, business email compromise attempts, and filed fake tax returns to financially harm individuals and businesses.

Also Read: EFCC Secures Extradition Of Alleged Wire Fraudster To USA

“But when disaster struck, so did Mr. Rufai. Whether it was hurricane disaster relief, small business loans, or COVID unemployment benefits, he stole aid that should have gone to disaster victims in the United States,” Brown said.

The Associate Deputy Attorney-General, Kevin Chambers, the Justice Department‘s Director of COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement, said, ”Abdemi Rufai chose to exploit the pandemic for personal gain, using stolen identities of Americans to support his lavish lifestyle overseas.

“The U.S. Attorney’s Office and their law enforcement partners did exceptional work bringing this defendant to justice. The Department will continue to pursue fraudsters who abused these programs and seek to recover their ill-gotten gains, whether they are in the United States or overseas.”

According to records filed in the case, since 2017, Rufai stole the personal identifying information of more than 20,000 Americans to submit more than $2m in claims for federally funded disaster relief benefits and fraudulent tax returns.

“The various agencies involved paid out more than $600,000. The largest amount of fraud was committed against the Washington State Employment Security Department, which paid out $350,763 in fraudulent pandemic unemployment claims to accounts controlled by Rufai. Rufai also submitted fraudulent pandemic unemployment claims in at least 17 other states.

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“The Employment Security Department deeply appreciates the tireless efforts of the Department of Justice, federal agencies and law enforcement in this matter.

“We always stand ready to hold those accountable who steal public funds and we appreciate the partnership in catching and prosecuting this individual,” the Commissioner for the Employment Security Department, Cami Feek, said in the statement.

 

 

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Top Court News is a product of a dedicated Journalist, owner of I-Wahab Media The Publisher started his Journalism career with Murhi International TV, MiTV in 2003 before working with Radio Nigeria, Lagos Operation, as a Judicial Correspondent. He is presently the Chairman of the National Association of Judicial Correspondent, NAJUC, Ikeja Branch and he is the Vice Chairman of Nigeria Union of Journalist, NUJ, Radio Nigeria Chapel. topcourtnewsng.com is out to serve you with informative and educative News in the Judiciary sector. To put an end to the under reported activities of the sector among the three arms of government

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N72.5m Theft: Peter Onoja Remand in Prison Pending Bail Application

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An Ikeja Special Offences Court, has remanded a former member of the National Union of Food, Beverage and Tobacco Employees (NUFBTE), Peter Onoja, in a correctional centre for allegedly stealing the sum of N72.5 million from the union.

Onoja is facing a six-count charge bordering on stealing, contrary to Section 287 of the Criminal Laws of Lagos State, 2011.

Justice Mojisola Dada ordered that the defendant be remanded in any correctional facility of his choice pending the filing and hearing of his bail application.

Subsequently the judge adjourned the case until Jan. 24 for the commencement of trial and hearing of bail application.

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, counsel, Mrs Anita Imo, alleged that the defendant fraudulently converted the sum of N72.5million, property of NUFBTE to his personal use.

Imo told the court that the defendant committed the offences between February 2015 and August 2020 in Lagos.

The defendant, however, pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Following his not guilty plea, the prosecution urged the court to remand the defendant in a correctional centre pending the commencement of trial.

Read Also: Oil Marketer, Adeleke Fayose, Remanded in Prison Over Alleged N66.5m Fraud

“In view of the not guilty plea of the defendant, we shall be asking for a trial date and we urge the court that the defendant be remanded, my lord’’, the prosecutor said.

The defence counsel, Mr Paul Okwoi, however, informed the court that the defence counsel could not file his bail application due to an error in it.

He, however, prayed to the court that two dates be granted in December for the defence counsel to file his bail application.

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Dr. Olaleye Remanded in Prison Over Sexual Assault Allegations

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Lagos State Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence Court sitting in Ikeja, has ordered the remand of a Medical Director of of Optimal Cancer Care Foundation, Dr Femi Olaleye, in Ikoyi Correctional Centre pending the fulfillment of his bail conditions.

Dr. Olaleye was charged before the court with a two-count charge of defilement and sexual assault by penetration of his 16 year-old wife’s niece.

He, however, pleaded not guilty to the charge when it was read to him.

His lead counsel, Mr Babatunde Ogala, (SAN), while moving his bail application dated Nov. 24 and filed on 25, prayed to the court to grant the defendant bail on liberal terms.

Mr. Ogala argued that the defendant had cancer patients who looked up to him for his service and would not be productive if remanded in prison.

Also Read: Former Accountant General Arraigned For N109 billion Laundering

He  also urged the court to use its discretion to grant the defendant bail adding that he appeared voluntarily in court after he had been served.

The prosecution team, led by the Director of the Public Prosecution (DPP,) Dr. Babajide Martins, in his counter affidavit dated Nov. 28, argued that the nature of the charge was serious enough  because it attracted life imprisonment.

Dr Martins argued that the complainant was the first wife of the defendant while the nominal complainant was the niece of the wife.

Justice Ramon Oshodi admitted the defendant to fifty million naira bail with two sureties in like sum, following the adoption of bail application by defense and counter affidavits by prosecution.

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The judge ruled that the sureties must have landed properties in Lagos and the original documents of the properties must be submitted to the chief registrar of the court.

He also said that the defendant must submit his British, Nigerian and other international passports in his possession to the chief registrar of the court.

The judge further ordered the court audile to verify the residential addresses of the sureties.

Subsequently, the matter was adjourned till December 19, for commencement of trial.

 

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Court Orders Arrest Of Imo State Deputy Speaker Over Alleged N785m Fraud

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The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, has issued a warrant for the arrest of the Deputy Speaker of the Imo state House of Assembly, Amarachi Iwuanyanwu, following his alleged involvement in a N785million fraud.

The court, in a ruling that was delivered by Justice Inyang Ekwo, directed the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, the Nigeria Police, the Department of Stats Services, the Nigerian Immigration Services and the Interpol, to arrest the lawmaker on sight, “anywhere he is sighted in Nigeria or outside the country and produce him before the court or to the EFCC headquarters, Abuja”.

The order for Iwuanyawu’s arrest was sequel to an ex-parte application dated November 14, filed by the EFCC through its lawyer, Mr. Olanrewaju Adeola.

In the application marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/2124/2024, EFCC, told the court that it got an intelligence that the lawmaker had since escaped from the country and is currently hiding in the United States of America, USA.

Read Also: Alleged Fraud: Court Place NOK University on Interim Forfeiture

It told the court that the Iwuanyanwu refused to make himself available to respond to a petition that was lodged against him and his company, Sun Gold Estate Limited.

According to the EFCC, a firm, Hakiz Investment Company Limited, had in the petition that was signed by its lawyer, Mr. Aikhunebe Malik, SAN, and addressed to its Chairman, alleged that it had sometime in 2012, entered into a Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, with Iwuanyawu’s company to develop an estate comprising of 14 units of 4 bedroom terrace and one blocks of 6 flats on the petitioner’s land situated at Mabuchi Abuja.

It told the court that the agreement was that upon the completion of the estate by the lawmaker, the complainant, who is the owner of the land, would take 40% of the building, while the Respondent, being the developer, would take 60% of the building.

However, the anti-graft agency alleged that its investigations revealed that “upon completion of the estate, the Deputy Speaker sold all the buildings and criminally diverted the funds without the knowledge of the Complainant”.

“That the market value of 40% of the buildings is about N785million.

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“That investigation is still ongoing and all invitations extended to both Iwuanyanwu and his company proved abortive.

“That a lawyer to the Respondent had on one of the occasions, received a copy of the invitation on his behalf and made promises that he would be available for questioning.

“That there is an intelligence report that the Respondent is in the USA.

“That without the suspect being apprehended or voluntarily coming to state their side of the story, the investigation will be incomplete.

“That in the light of the calculated effort by the suspect to remain evasive, there is need to place the suspect on watch list of the Commission, the police and any other law enforcement”, EFCC averred in an affidavit that was deposed to by one of its officials, Ufuoma Ezire.

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EFCC maintained that it would be in the interest of justice for the court to issue an arrest warrant against the Respondent.

It predicated the application for an arrest warrant to be issued against the Respondent on section 35(1) (c ) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, sections 3, 37 and 39(1) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015, as well as sections 6, 7, 13 and 41 of the EFCC (Establishment Act) 2004.

The Commission told the court that it had since written investigation activities letters to the Corporate Affairs Commission, Banks, and other relevant agencies.

Meanwhile, in his ruling, Justice Ekwo held that there was merit in the ex-parte application and accordingly granted it.

Justice Ekwo adjourned the matter till February 23 for report.

 

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