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EFCC charges two with alleged fraud of $268,000.00

Precious Ojo and Joseph Uduaghan were arraigned by the Benin Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Regional Command on Wednesday, July 5, 2023 before Judge F. A. Olubanjo of the Federal High Court of Asaba, Delta State.

Ojo and Uduaghan were charged with 10 and three counts, respectively, of fraudulent impersonation, racketeering and money laundering.

Ojo, also known as obago, allegedly posed as Peter Gabriel, an American doctor who was said to be working in Syria, to defraud unsuspecting American lady Agata Harasimowicz out of $268,000 (two hundred and sixty-eight thousand dollars). Uduaghan allegedly received funds totaling 170 million naira from Ojo to build a hotel.

One of the charges alleges: “You, Precious Ojo (male), between July 2021 and April 2022, in the Delta State within the jurisdiction of this court, with intent to defraud, sent Agata Harasimowicz materially misrepresented An electronic message, an American lady who relied on $268,000.00 (US$268,000) worth of bitcoins and gift cards and suffered financial loss, is guilty of an offense under Section 14(2) and is liable to punishment Cybercrime 2015 (Prohibition of Prevention, etc.) Act”.

One of the charges against Uduaghan is: “You, Joseph Uduaghan (Male), have directly used a total of N170,000,000.00 (one hundred and seven thousand $10,000) Naira) to build a hotel called the Obago Continental Hotel and Suites, located on West Triangle Road in the Ogareff District, Delta State, funds that you know or should reasonably know constitute Precious Ojo Proceeds of Illegal Practices Part of: Cybercrime, thereby constituting an offense contrary to section 15(2)(d) of the Anti-Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 (Revised Edition), which is punishable under section 15(3) of the Act” .
At arraignment, the accused pleaded not guilty to the charges, prompting prosecution attorney Francis Jirbo to pray that the court would set a trial date.

However, defense barrister Pascal Ugboom told the court he had lodged bail applications for his clients and begged the court to grant them bail. He argued that the alleged crime was bailabĺe and that the accused would stand trial.

Lawyers for the prosecution opposed the application on the grounds that the defendants were a flight risk and could escape bail.

Defense lawyers, however, pleaded with the court to release the defendant pending a bail ruling. The application is for a judge to order the defendant’s release to defense attorneys, who are required to produce a letter from the president of his NBA club certifying that he is a prominent member of the club and has paid practice fees to date. He should also undertake in writing that he will present the defendant whenever the court requires him and that he will be liable for the consequences of the surety’s breach.

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