The Benin Zonal Command of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on Wednesday July 5, 2023 arraigned Precious Ojo and Joseph Uduaghan before Justice F. A. Olubanjo of the Federal High Court sitting in Asaba, Delta State.
Ojo and Uduaghan were arraigned on 10 and three count charges respectively for offences bordering on fraudulent impersonation, obtaining by false pretence and money laundering.
Ojo, aka obago, allegedly impersonated one Peter Gabriel, an American medical doctor purportedly working in Syria to defraud his unsuspecting victim, Agata Harasimowicz, an American lady, of the aggregate sum $268,0000 (Two Hundred and Sixty-eight Thousand America Dollars. Uduaghan on his part is alleged to have received the aggregate sum of N170 million from Ojo which he used in the construction of a hotel.
One of the charges reads: “That you, Precious Ojo (m) sometime between July 2021 and April, 2022 in Delta State within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court did with intent to defraud sent electronic messages which materially misrepresent your identity to Agata Harasimowicz, an American lady upon which she relied and suffered financial loss in the aggregate sum of $268,000.00 (Two Hundred and Sixty-eight Thousand United States Dollars) worth of Bitcoin and Gift Cards and thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under Section 14(2) of the Cybercrime (Prohibition prevention etc) Act 2015”.
One of the charges against Uduaghan reads: “that you, Joseph Uduaghan (m) sometime between March and December, 2022 in Delta State within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court did directly use the aggregate sum of N170,000,000.00 (One Hundred and Seventy Million Naira) to build a hotel known as Obago Continental Hotel and Suites, lying and situate at Western Delta Road, Ogharefe Area of Delta State which funds you knew or reasonably ought to have known forms part of the proceeds of unlawful act of Precious Ojo to wit: Cybercrime and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 15(2)(d) of the Money Laundering (prohibition) Act, 2011 (As Amended) and punishable under Section 15(3)of the same Act”.
Upon arraignment the defendants pleaded not guilty to the charges, prompting the prosecution counsel, Francis Jirbo to pray the court to fix a date for trial.
However the defence counsel, Pascal Ugbome informed the court that he has filed a bail application for his clients and pleaded with the court to grant them bail. He argued that the alleged offences were bailabĺe and that the defendants will be available to face their trial.
The prosecution counsel opposed the application on the ground that the defendants are flight risk and could jump bail..
However, the defence counsel pleaded with the court to release the defendants to him pending the ruling on the bail. application The judge ordered that the defendants be released to the defence counsel who is expected to produce a letter from his NBA branch chairman attesting to the fact that he is a known member of the branch and that he has paid his practicing fee to date. He is to also undertake in writing that he will produce the defendants anytime they are needed in court and shall be liable to the consequence of a surety in the circumstance of a breach.