A man, Ebiesuwa Abayomi Fredrick, and his wife, Tinuola Idayat Oyegunle, have been sentenced to 40 years imprisonment each, after they were found guilty of conspiracy and obtaining through false pretence.
The judgement was delivered by Justice Joyce Abdulmalik of the Federal High Court, sitting in Ibadan, Oyo State, on February 15, 2021.
The couple was found guilty of a four-count charge brought against them by the Ibadan Zonal office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
In a statement issued by the EFCC’s Head, Media and Publicity, Wilson Uwujaren, the couple had fleeced one Dunni Olateru-Olagbegi of N53,713,260 million through cash and bank transfer, pretending to be carrying out spiritual cleansing to make the victim avoid mysterious and sudden death.
This was after Olateru-Olagbegi was conned into hearing conversation among members of a syndicate about a Ghana- Must –Go bag stuffed with United States dollar bills in the boot of a car.
She was also tricked into bringing funds to cleanse the supposed US dollars, Uwujaren said.
Prior to the fraudulent cleansing process, the victim had, in May 2013, boarded a taxi cab with three other passengers who, unknown to her, were members of a syndicate of fraudsters.
Thenewsbearer learnt that as soon as she boarded the vehicle, Olateru-Olagbegi heard the three other supposed passengers arguing about a Ghana-Must-Go bag filled with US dollars in the boot of the car.
Moments after, one of the syndicate members had told her that she must be cleansed to avert sudden and mysterious death, having heard their discussion.
She was taken to an unknown destination, where she subsequently started giving the defendants and the other members of the syndicate (at large) various sums in cash and bank payment, totalling over N53 million.
She was told that the money was to be used to buy instruments for the cleansing of the US dollar notes, which she allegedly sourced from the sale of her properties in Ibadan, Oyo State and Lagos State.
The EFCC Head of Media added that in the course of investigation, it was discovered that over N9 million was paid into the domiciliary account of the second defendant, Oyegunle, in a third generation bank.
This was aside the other funds traced to the account of the first defendant, Fredrick.
It was also discovered that the first defendant built Victoria East Park Hotel & Suites, located at Igbogbo, Ikorodu, Lagos, from the proceeds of the crime.
Delivering the judgement, Justice Abdulmalik found the couple guilty of the charge, and sentenced them to 10 years imprisonment on each of the four counts.
While Fredrick’s prison term would take effect from June 19, 2017 when he was arrested, Oyegunle’s time in the Custodial Centre would start counting from May 26, 2017 when she was arrested.
The judge also ordered that Victoria East Park Hotel & Suites, “be sold, and the proceeds, if not up to N53,713,260 million, be returned to the victim in the case; and if it exceeds, the balance be paid into the Federal Government’s account.”
The sentences are to run concurrently.
One of the counts had read: “That you, Ebiesuwa Abayomi Fredrick, Tinuola Idayat Oyegunle and (others still at large) between 28 March, 2014, in Ibadan, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, with intent to defraud, did obtain by false pretence, the sum of N9,352,100 million only, from one Dunni Olateru-Olagbegi, under the pretence that the money was to be used to purchase instrument for the cleansing of United States of America dollar notes, which pretence you knew to be false, and thereby committed an offence contrary to section 1 (1) & (2) and punishable under section 1 (3) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act, 2016.”