17 June 2016
An Ikeja High Court has sentenced a 25-year-old, Patrick Ezeji, to two years imprisonment for defrauding a Canadian, Sheila Griffiths, of 32,220 dollars.
The convict was arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on a two-count charge of conspiracy to steal and stealing.
Ezeji entered a plea bargain and promised to refund the woman’s stolen money before the sentence was passed on him.
He, however, refunded only 2,220 dollars out of the 32,220 dollars.
Justice Kudirat Jose, while sentencing Ezeji, said his punishment should serve as a deterrent to youths who might want to toe the path of crime.
“I have listened to the plea of your counsel, Mr Victor Okpara and I have considered that the defendant has promised to pay the outstanding balance of the money to the victim.
“I am of the view that young people should desist from deceiving people to part with their hard-earned money.
“The defendant is hereby sentenced to two years in prison; the sentence starts from the first day of the judgment.
“This should serve as a deterrent to other young people considering a life of crime,’’ she ruled.
Earlier Mr Okpara pleaded with the court to temper justice with mercy.
“My Lord, the defendant did not waste the time of the court; he is 25 years of age and he has just been admitted to study Political Science at the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN).
“He is a first time offender and he is doing restitution as contained in the plea bargain arrangement.
“He has been incarcerated since Dec. 3, 2012, in the prison environment, he is well known as a talented graphic design artist, he will use his skills more productively and with the fear of God if he is released into the society,’’ counsel pleaded.
The EFCC, represented by Mrs Anita Imo, had alleged that Ezeji and an accomplice, Anthony Okpara, conspired to steal 32,220 dollars online from Sheila Griffiths.
She said the victim upon realising that she had been scammed, contacted the Canadian High Commission which in turn petitioned the EFCC.
Justice Jose also fixed Oct. 18 and Oct. 19 for the trial of Anthony Okpara, Ezeji’s accomplice.