Nigeria: Businessman Sentenced to 11 Years in Jail for Defrauding Victim of N48.5 Million in Dubai Phone Purchase Scam

Nigeria: Businessman Sentenced to 11 Years in Jail for Defrauding Victim of N48.5 Million in Dubai Phone Purchase Scam

By Zuleihat Owuiye, Mamos Nigeria

An agent, Okwudili Ezeobi, has been convicted and sentenced to 11 years imprisonment by the Igbosere Magistrates’ Court in Lagos Island for swindling a businessman of the sum of N48,580,000. Ezeobi deceived the victim by falsely claiming to help him purchase phones from Dubai.

Magistrate Azeez Alogba, presiding over the case, ordered Ezeobi to repay the full amount to the complainant by May 22, 2024, or serve the complete jail term.

Ezeobi was initially arraigned on June 20, 2022, on two counts of obtaining false pretenses and stealing, as charged by the police.

According to Inspector Friday Mameh, the prosecutor, the incident occurred on January 10, 2022. The money in question was intended for the purchase and shipping of 300 phones from Dubai, owned by Mr. Onyekachukwu Mba.

The charges against Ezeobi violated Sections 314 and 287 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 

Despite pleading not guilty to the charges, Ezeobi stood trial, during which the prosecution called two witnesses and the convict testified in his defense.

The complainant, Mr. Mba, testified that he is a phone retailer who had previously purchased phones from the United States. However, due to shipping delays, he sought an alternative supplier in Dubai. He came across Ezeobi, whom he contacted through a staff member of a company in Dubai.

Magistrate Alogba noted that Mba testified that he communicated with Ezeobi via WhatsApp, and their first transaction was successful. However, a subsequent transaction had issues with the exchange rate, causing Ezeobi to express frustration and make negative remarks about agents who run away with people’s money.

Mba stated that he made all payments to an account provided by Ezeobi and requested him to personally inspect the goods before and after payment. However, the goods were never delivered, and his money was not refunded.

In his defense, Ezeobi claimed to be a businessman dealing in provisions and shipping goods from Dubai to Nigeria. He stated that he knew Mba and had helped him with money exchange from Nigeria to Dubai. Ezeobi explained that Mba’s payment was made to his brother’s account in Dubai, and when the goods were not delivered as promised, they reported the matter to the police.

Magistrate Alogba concluded that the prosecution successfully established that Ezeobi concealed his location, thereby making a false representation to Mba. Consequently, Ezeobi was found guilty on both counts and sentenced to repay the complainant or serve a term of eight years for count one and three years for count two, with the sentences to run concurrently.

It is essential to hold individuals accountable for their fraudulent actions, as it promotes trust and safeguards the interests of innocent victims. The court’s decision sends a clear message that such scams will not be tolerated, and perpetrators will face severe consequences.

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