By Nimot Adetola Sulaimon
Justice Agatha Okeke of the Federal High Court sitting in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, on Wednesday, sentenced one Henry Mfon Asuquo, a military impostor, to eight years imprisonment.
The defendant was charged on a two-count- impersonation and cybercrime- brought against him by the Uyo Zonal Office of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
Asuquo’s journey to jail started on January 3, 2019, when operatives of the Commission arrested him at Ayara Street, Nungu Uko in Ibesikpo Local Government Area of the State following a petition by one Itoro Tom.
Tom alleged in her petition that Asuquo swapped her Subscriber Identification Module, SIM card, and fraudulently withdrew N700,000 (Seven Hundred Thousand Naira) from her account domiciled at a new generation bank.
Investigation into the matter revealed that the convict paraded himself as a military officer and in that capacity, he was going about intimidating and defrauding unsuspecting victims of their hard-earned money.
A search executed on his apartment upon arrest led to the recovery of military uniforms, boots and bulletproof jackets.
In the course of interrogation, he admitted to the crime and refunded the sum of
N100,000 (One Hundred Thousand Naira) to the petitioner (Tom).
He was subsequently arraigned on March 27, 2019, on a two-count charge bordering on fraud, impersonation and cybercrime, to which he pleaded “not guilty”.
In the course of the trial, counsel to the EFCC, Adebayo Soares, presented two witnesses; Tom Itoro Edet (PW1- the complainant) and Suleiman Abba (PW2 – an operative of the Commission). Some of the exhibits tendered and admitted in evidence include military kits containing several military shirts and trousers, Techno Spark 3 phone belonging to the convict and correspondences from the Nigeria Army and First City Monument Bank, FCMB.
However, the trial took a new turn on March 5, 2021, when the defence counsel, Dennis Adiaka informed the court of the convict’s intention to change his plea. The application was granted and Asuquo pleaded “guilty” to the charge against him. The court, thereafter found him guilty and adjourned his sentencing till today.
In her judgment today, Justice Okeke sentenced Asuquo to 4years imprisonment on each of the two counts preferred against him to run concurrently without the option of a fine.
The judge also ordered the convict to pay his victim a sum of N600,000 (Six Hundred Thousand Naira) as restitution before he could be released from prison. In addition, the court ordered the forfeiture of the items used in the commission of the crime, which was recovered from the convict at the point of arrest to the Federal Government.
In a similar fashion, Justice Okeke also convicted and sentenced one Vincent Harrison Chukwuemeka, a serial Facebook hacker to one-year imprisonment without option of fine, for impersonation and obtaining by false pretence to the tune of N407,000 (Four Hundred and Seven Thousand Naira).
It was alleged that Chukwuemeka falsely presented himself as Lisa, while claiming to be a representative of Facebook and WhatsApp from the United States of America, through the African Head Office. Under that guise, he allegedly defrauded one Felicity Felix Ekpezu of the said sum, as he (Chukwuemeka) deceived her (Ekpezu) to believe that she had won $971 (Nine Hundred and Seventy-One United States Dollars) and an iPhone 6s, to which she needed to pay N407, 000 to redeem.
Chukwuemeka was arraigned on a one-count charge bordering on impersonation and obtaining by false pretence to the tune of N407, 000.
He initially pleaded “not guilty” to the charge, but in the course of trial changed his plea to guilty and refunded his victim the money he fraudulently collected from him.
The court at the resumed sitting today, sentenced him to one-year imprisonment beginning from the date of his arrest without an option of a fine.