An Ikeja Special Offences Court on Monday sentenced a man, Francis Nduka, to two years’ imprisonment for parading himself as an American lawyer to defraud innocent people of $3,700.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Justice Ramon Oshodi convicted Nduka on a two-count charge after he pleaded guilty under plea bargain agreement.
He held that Nduka’s confessional statement, which was admitted in evidence without objection from defence, showed that he committed the offences.
“The defendant started his cybercrime since year 2020, posing to be an American lawyer, Richard Ratz, and yoga instructor, extorting money from innocent people.
“You have hurt every lawyer in this court room today. Do you think you are better than them by disguising as an American lawyer?
“Let it be known that legal profession is a noble profession, and I can see that the defendant is not remorseful while pleading for mercy.
“He is hereby sentenced to one year imprisonment on count one and one year imprisonment on count two, or he should pay a fine of five million Naira on both counts.
“The sentencing shall run concurrently,” the judge held.
Oshodi added that the convict should forfeit his iPhone 11 Plus, a Lenovo laptop and a silver Lexus 350 as restitution to the Federal Government.
Counsel to Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Mrs Orhieoghene Adewunmi, had told the court that amendment of the charge from seven counts to two counts followed a plea bargain agreement.
Reviewing the facts of the case dated Jan. 13, Adewunmi told the court that the defendant was arrested during a raid at Iju Ishaga, Lagos State, following a tipoff.
“iPhone 11 Plus, a Lenovo laptop and a Lexus saloon car were recovered from him, and after the gadgets were analysed, we found fraudulent documents in which the defendant claimed to be one Richard Ratz.
“Initially, a seven-count charge was preferred against him but he weighed his options and opted for plea bargain.
“We have his confessional statement to support the charges; he confessed to portraying himself as Richard Ratz, defrauding his victims of $3,700,’’ she submitted.
NAN reports that the defendant had pleaded for leniency, saying that he was a first-time offender.
His counsel, Mr Kazeem Adam, prayed the court to grant him a non-custodial sentence.
The offences contravene Section 318 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2015. (NAN)