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Nigerian Fraudsters Jailed for Cybercrimes in Akwa Ibom

Three internet scammers convicted and sentenced by a federal high court

by Victor Adetimilehin

The use of the internet for fraudulent activities has been on the rise in Nigeria, especially in the southern state of Akwa Ibom. Three young men have been convicted and sentenced to various jail terms by a federal high court in Uyo, the state capital, for their involvement in cybercrimes.

How they were caught

The convicts – Abraham Itoro Sunday, Ezea Chidera Charles, and Udoh Christopher Gabriel – were arrested by operatives of the Uyo Zonal Command of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on November 22, 2023, at different locations in Afaha Atai, in Iko Eket Akwa Ibom State.

According to a statement by the spokesperson of the EFCC, Dele Oyewale, the anti-graft agency arraigned them on one-count separate charge bordering on criminal impersonation, internet fraud, and possession of fraudulent documents.

The charge against Sunday read: “That you Abraham Itoro Sunday ‘M’ sometime in 2023 within the jurisdiction of this honourable court did fraudulently impersonate Brian O’ Noel on Facebook with the intent to gain advantage for yourself and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 22 (2) (b) (I) of the Cybercrimes (Prohibition, prevention) Act 2015 and punishable under the same section.”

They pleaded guilty to all the charges when they were read to them.

The verdict and the penalty

Based on their pleas, the prosecution counsel – Enobong Ubokudom and Farida Bukar – prayed the court to convict and sentence them accordingly.

Delivering judgment on Thursday, Justice Chigozie Sergius Onah convicted and sentenced Sunday and Charles to six months imprisonment each with an option of a fine of N200,000.00, while Gabriel bagged a five-month jail term with an option of a fine of N150,000.00.

The court also ordered that the three smartphones used by the convicts to perpetrate the crimes be forfeited to the Federal Government.

The impact of cybercrime in Nigeria

Cybercrime is a serious problem in Nigeria, affecting not only the economy but also the reputation of the country. According to a report by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Nigeria lost $649 million to cybercrime in 2023, ranking third in Africa after South Africa and Kenya.

Cybercrime also tarnishes the image of Nigerians abroad, as many are perceived as fraudsters and scammers. This affects their chances of getting visas, jobs, and business opportunities.

The fight against cybercrime in Nigeria

The Nigerian government and its agencies have been making efforts to combat cybercrime and bring the perpetrators to justice. The EFCC, which is the leading agency in this regard, has been collaborating with local and international partners to track and arrest cybercriminals.

The EFCC also conducts public awareness campaigns to educate Nigerians on the dangers and consequences of cybercrime, and to encourage them to report any suspicious activities online.

The Nigerian government has also enacted laws and regulations to prevent and punish cybercrime, such as the Cybercrimes (Prohibition, Prevention, etc.) Act 2015, which prescribes penalties ranging from fines to imprisonment for various offences.

Cybercrime is not only a crime against individuals and organizations, but also a crime against the nation. It is the duty of every Nigerian to join hands in the fight against this menace, and to uphold the dignity and honour of the country.

Source: Punch

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