According to a report by The PUNCH, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission’s Lagos zonal office has obtained the conviction of Joseph Adele, Richie Ojeba, and John Ogo for an N65 million fraud from the Special Offences Court in Ikeja, presided over by Justice Mojisola Dada.
The convicts began their journey to prison, according to the EFCC’s Head of Media and Publicity, Wilson Uwujaren, after conspiring to defraud Dr Joseph Mekiliuwa, the Managing Director of Wealth Builders Technical Services, through a fictitious contract they claimed Total Exploration and Production Nigeria Limited was offering for the installation of solar panels in the Egi community, Port Harcourt.
The statement read in part, “They were first arraigned in September 2020 on 15 counts bordering on conspiracy, stealing and obtaining by false pretences, to which they pleaded not guilty.
“However, on June 17, 2021, they changed their plea to guilty, when they were re-arraigned before the trial judge on amended three counts.”
One of the counts read, “That you, Joseph Worhabiko Adele (aka Joseph Azunda), Richie Edward Ojeba, John Ovie Ogo, Beauty Wugate Adele (still at large) and Hajia Jemila Yunusa (still at large), sometime in March 2019 in Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, conspired to steal the sum of N65,070,000, property of Dr Joseph Mekiliuwa, Managing Director, Wealth Builders Technical Services.”
According to the statement, Ojeba was also accused of possessing fraudulent documents used in the fraud.
The prosecuting counsel, S. O. Daji, told the court that the EFCC received a petition from the complainant accusing the defendants and others of defrauding him in January 2020.
“Investigation was subsequently carried out and it was discovered that the complainant was defrauded of N65,070,000, with the three defendants being beneficiaries of the fraud,” he said.
Daji also informed the court that the first defendant received N13,806,000, while the second and third defendants each received N22,350,000 and N22,150,000.
He further informed the court, “As part of the plea bargain, the first defendant has so far refunded N6,000,000 to the complainant; the second defendant has so far refunded N20,000,000, while the third defendant has refunded N12,500,000.”
He presented the EFCC with the convicts’ statements as well as the fraudulent documents obtained from the third defendant as evidence.
The defendants were all convicted on count one and sentenced to six months in prison, according to the anti-graft agency’s statement.
“They were sentenced to one year in prison on count two. The third defendant was further convicted on count three and sentenced to six months in jail. The sentences are to run concurrently. They were, however, given an option of N500,000 in lieu of the jail terms,” the statement added.