A Lagos State High Court, on Thursday, sentenced an Islamic cleric, Ganiu Awojobi, to two years imprisonment for defrauding a United States-based businesswoman, Oluwatoyin Akinwole, of N37.6m.
Awojobi, who was re-arraigned alongside a self-acclaimed oil marketer, Paul Adesanya, was sentenced after pleading guilty to amended charges of stealing and obtaining money by false pretences.
However, Adesanya pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission alleged that the duo defrauded Akinwole, leaked her nude pictures on the social media and thereafter reported that she committed suicide by jumping into the lagoon on the Third Mainland Bridge in 2017.
Awojobi’s counsel, Goddy Osuyi, in his allocutus, stated that his client had pleaded with the complainant to accept a property he acquired from the proceeds of the fraud, adding that the convict had repented and was now sober.
Delivering her judgment, Justice Mojisola Dada, said, “I have listened to the allocutus of the 2nd defence counsel, Goddy Osuyi, and I have also considered the plea bargain agreement before the court. The 2nd defendant is hereby sentenced to two years imprisonment as agreed in the plea bargain.
“The prison sentence should begin from the day of his remand by the court on November 8, 2018. This is the judgement of the court.”
Awojobi and Adesanya had defrauded the businesswoman of N71m on the pretext of rendering special prayers for her and investing in the crude oil business.
Akinwole had told the court that the two men, after defrauding her, posted her nude pictures, which they extracted from her phone, on the social media and concocted her suicide story in order to deter and frustrate her from coming after them.
She said, “My father even suffered a stroke after seeing my nude pictures online. They deceived me into believing that I would get 150 per cent profit after a month of investment.
“They kept extorting money from me on the pretext that more money was needed at the ports to perfect the transaction before releasing the oil. This made me borrow huge amounts from friends just to make the deal work.
“I got to know about their scam when one of Adesanya’s workers called to inform me that they never invested my money in any oil business, but rather used it to buy houses and exotic cars. The employee told me that his boss bought a house and five exotic cars, while his friend, Awojobi, bought a house and three cars. He told me to quickly come to Nigeria and get them arrested.
“That was when I flew back to Nigeria and got Adesanya arrested, but Awojobi ran away. Adesanya was arrested on three different occasions but the police would always release him less than 24 hours after. I got so frustrated that I didn’t know what to do.
“I called my lawyer to petition the EFCC and he did. “Adesanya was finally arrested by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad of the Osun State Police Command and handed over to the EFCC.
“But he was released on administrative bail by the EFCC. Awojobi was arrested a month later. It was after their release that Adesanya uploaded my nude pictures on the Internet and tagged me, my husband, my children and my company. The pictures went viral because he also sent them to a Yoruba newspaper and other newspapers.”