Advertisement

The Ilorin Zonal Command of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC on Monday, May 6, 2024, re-arraigned an Ilorin based Businessman, Chukudubeem Ezenwa on a five-count charge bordering on cybercrime, retention of proceeds of crime and fraud to the tune of $10,000USD.

Ezenwa, Managing Director of Chukudubem Apple Tech Limited was arraigned alongside Adeleke Damilola before Justice Evelyn Anyadike of the Federal High Court sitting in Ilorin.

The two defendants were first arraigned on September 23, 2021 before Justice Muhammed Sani of the same court. But the trial could not be concluded before the redeployment of the former trial judge to another division. Hence, the case had to be reassigned to another judge prompting the case to start de novo.

Count one of the charge reads: “That you, ADELEKE DAMILOLA, CHUKWUDUBEM EZENWA between the month of August and November 2020 in Ilorin, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, with intent to defraud, did conspire amongst yourselves to obtain $10,000.00 USD (Ten Thousand Dollars) from a credit card which does not belong to you through the use a cash App software device and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 27 (b) read with 33(2)(b) of the Cybercrime (Prohibition, Prevention Act) 2015 and punishable under same Section of the Act’’

Advertisement

The defendants pleaded not guilty to the charge.

Upon their pleas, counsel to the EFCC, Innocent Mbachie sought the leave of the court to open the trial by calling the first prosecution witness PW1, Olamide Sadiq, to substantiate the case against the defendant, which the court obliged.

Sadiq,  a Chief Superintendent of the EFCC while being led in evidence narrated the circumstances that led to the arrest of the defendants.

In his evidence-in-chief, he said: “My Lord, the Commission received a petition from a concerned citizen of Offa in Kwara State. The petitioner specifically complained of the activities of some suspected internet fraudsters operating in three communities around Offa. The Commission swung into action and in the process, Damilola was arrested alongside twenty others.”

He added that further findings led to the arrest of Chukwudubem Ezenwa

The witness stated further that three different brands of phones and a Toyota Camry Car were recovered from Damilola. According to him, checks and analysis of the phones revealed the complicity of the second defendant (Damilola) in the fraudulent activities.

“In the course of interrogation, Damilola confessed to us that the first defendant (Ezenwa) introduced a cash app application to him which he used to make illegal withdrawal of the sum of $8,500 (Eight Thousand, Five Hundred United States Dollars) on his behalf”, he said.

Testifying further, the PW1 told the court that Damilola paid the sum of N3million into a Zenith Bank account belonging to Ezenwa from the proceeds of the unlawful activities, upon which he was rewarded with N600,000.00 (Six Hundred Thousand Naira Only), as his own share.

On the strength of the confessional statements of the second defendant, Sadiq said that the Commission swung into action and got Ezenwa arrested. He said that upon interrogation, Ezenwa confessed to the crime. He added that the defendant admitted in his confessional statement that his activities were illegal and promised that he would be willing to return all that he had benefited from the proceeds of crime”

The witness disclosed to the court that, between the month of May to September 2020, more than N350million was received by the defendant, which he could not justify.

Attempts by the prosecution to tender in evidence the extra-judicial statements and fraudulent documents printed from the defendants’ devices were however objected to by counsel to the first and second defendants,  Ochinachi Odom and Tochi Ekwedike who alleged that their clients were coerced and made to write the statements under duress, intimidation and harassment.

Thereafter, Justice Anyadike adjourned till Tuesday, May 7, 2024, for trial-within-trial to determine the voluntariness of the statements.

Advertisement