By KEHINDE OLASANMI
An Ikeja High Court, Thursday, sentenced two suspected fraudsters, Ezekwesili Aniegbunan and Boanerge Beulah, to 20 years imprisonment each, six years after they duped their victim of $30,000 under the pretence of bribing the late Mrs Stella Obasanjo, wife of ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo, to renew an oil propecting licence.

Trial judge, Justice Joseph Oyewole, who sentenced the victims after he found them guilty on the two-count charge of conspiracy to obtain money by false pretence and obtaining money by false pretence, said the court took the decision to send a message to the public that crime does not pay.

The convicts were said to have used the name of the late first lady, Mrs. Obasanjo to defraud their victim, Mr. Felix Nnachukwu on the pretext that the wife of their lawyer was a cousin of the late first lady and that the first lady was willing to help the victim re-validate an expired oil prospecting license at the Presidency.

They had told their victim that Mrs. Obasanjo demanded a fee of $185, 000 for the transaction and had agreed to an installment payment.

Consequently, Nnachukwu gave out the first installment of $30, 000 and collected an acknowledgment paper in respect of the payment.

When nothing was done with the first installment, they asking for the second installment of $55, 000, the victim got suspicious and petitioned the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, where investigations were carried out and the convicts arrested.

During the trial, EFCC told the court that none of the convicts was related to the late first lady and they could not give the address of the person, who they allegedly paid for onward transmission to the first lady.

The duos were arraigned on November 1, 2005 on a two-count charge against them.

In his judgment, Justice Oyewole, said “I have duly considered the passionate allocutus of the defendants’ counsel and I must take cognisance of the period in custody and lack of previous record of offence but I must also take into consideration the plight of the victim and sending the right message to the public that crime does not pay.”

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