In a landmark legal development, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has scored a significant victory by securing the conviction and sentencing of 25 individuals involved in internet fraud in Anambra State. This significant success marks another step forward in the fight against cybercrime and fraudulent activities within Nigeria.
The EFCC made this announcement in an official statement shared on the X (formerly Twitter) page of the commission, revealing that the convictions are the outcome of their involvement in a range of cybercrime offenses. The agency disclosed that 22 of the convicted individuals have been sentenced to two years of imprisonment each, while the remaining three received cautions and temporary detention in Awka, the capital of Anambra State.
The trial took place before Justice Nnamdi Dimkpa of the Federal High Court, Awka. All 25 defendants faced a single charge related to impersonation, as alleged by the EFCC. The charge accused them of fraudulent impersonation through fake Facebook accounts and iPhone 12 Pro devices, which they allegedly used to deceive foreign nationals and gain financial advantages, thereby violating the Cybercrimes (Prohibition, Prevention, etc) Act of 2015.
In a compelling turn of events, the EFCC reported that all 25 defendants pleaded guilty to the charges, prompting EFCC counsels Ani Michael and Rotimi Ajobiewe to request appropriate sentencing from the court.
In a verdict that underlines the seriousness of the offenses, Justice Dimkpa sentenced the majority of the defendants to two years of imprisonment, providing them with the option of paying a fine of N200,000.00 (Two Hundred Thousand Naira) instead. The remaining three individuals received cautions and were temporarily detained within the court premises for eight hours before their eventual release.
The convicted individuals were identified as follows: Kingsley Chekwubechukwu Ngwu, Anthony Emmanuel Ndubuisi, Onyia Chukwuka Christian, Chukwuneke Chibuike Nicholas, Nonso Henry Ozoekwe, John Samuel, Okpe Matthew Chinweike, Kalu Nnachi, Okpe Joachim, Obike Ebuka Boniface, Eze Onyedikachi Kingsley, Ogonna Samuel Okpataku, Denis Chigozie, Emmanuel Johnson, Basil Nnaluo Jason, Chidera Shedrack Ugwueke, David Chimerie Ukeje, Christian Nnamdi Jideofor, Osinachi Johnson, Okechukwu Ezeka, Onuorah Johnson, Ekene Christian Obikezie, Emmanuel Chinonso Aleke, Sopuluchukwu Paul Eneje, and Okechukwu Joshua Onah.
This conviction serves as a resounding message from the court regarding its unwavering commitment to combat internet fraud and cybercrimes within the region. It underscores the severe legal repercussions faced by individuals engaged in such unlawful activities, further highlighting the importance of upholding the rule of law and protecting digital spaces from malicious actors.