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Court jails man seven years for employment fraud

The Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, on Friday sentenced one Abraham Walson to seven years imprisonment for employment fraud.

The convict was arraigned before Justice U.N. Amogoh by the Port Harcourt Zonal Command of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on a nine-count charge bordering on conspiracy and obtaining money under false pretence, contrary to Section 1 (1)(a) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Related Offences Act, 2006 and punishable under Section 1 (3) of the same act.

According to a statement by EFCC Spokesperson, Dele Oyewale, one of the count charges reads: “That you Abraham Walson, Marcus Udo lfon (at large), sometime in February 2011 at Port Harcourt, within the Port Harcourt Judicial Division, with intent to defraud did obtain an aggregate sum of N1,300,000 (one million, three hundred naira) from one Apostle Emmanuel Tom Ebitu under the pretence that the said sum of money would be used for the training of some members of his congregation, and their job offer with Saipem Nigeria Ltd, the pretext you knew to be false and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 1 (1)(a) of the Advance Fee Fraud and other Related Offences Act, 2006 and punishable under Section 1 (3) of the same Act.”

Another count reads: “That you Abraham Walson, Marcus Udo Ifon (at large), Glory Eneyo Etifit (at large) sometime in February 2011 at Port Harcourt, within the Port Harcourt Judicial Division, with intent to defraud, did obtain the sum of N181, 700 (one hundred and eighty-one thousand, and seven hundred naira) from one Oboho John Ewa under the pretence that the said sum of money would be used for the training and job offer with Saipem Nigeria Ltd, the pretext you knew to be false and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 1(1) (a) of the Advance Fee Fraud and other Related Offences Act, 2006 and punishable under Section 1 (3) of the same Act.”

He pleaded “not guilty” when the charges were read to him upon his arraignment.

Based on his plea, the matter went into a full trial. Prosecution counsel I. Agu called some witnesses who testified in the matter and tendered documents that were admitted by the court and marked as exhibits.

Counsel to the defendant, S. S. Ibogun, prayed the court to temper justice with mercy, stressing that the defendant was a first-time offender and had always made himself available in court throughout his trial.

Justice Agomoh, however, convicted and sentenced the defendant to seven years imprisonment on count one to count nine without an option of a fine, with the sentence to run concurrently from the date of arrest.

The judge also ordered that the black Nissan Almera with registration number AM 613 BNY recovered from the convict at the scene of the arrest, be forfeited and sold and proceeds from the sale be distributed among the victims. He also ordered the convict to submit an affidavit of good behaviour before the court.

Walson’s journey to jail started when he was arrested by operatives of the EFCC in 2011 for obtaining money from his victims in exchange for jobs.

It was alleged that one Timothy Okpara Peters (now at large) engaged the services of the convict to set up a training field in the interior part of Nbguoba along NTA Road, Port Harcourt, where youths from Adoni and other parts of South-South were to be trained on pipeline fittings and fabrication. Walson was the coordinator and instructor of the supposed training field and he met the victims and informed them of the training and job offer for a particular fee.

The investigation further revealed that about 263 of his victims paid a minimum of N100,000 as part of the contrived two-week pipeline fitting and fabrication training and job offer. Walson further persuaded his victims that the training company had secured a contract worth $101 million, insisting that more hands would be needed to execute the purported contract. Eventually, the convict was unable to secure any job for the victims nor was there any $101 million contract. Walson collected a total sum of N2,115,000 from his victims.

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