A 60-year-old man, Charles Jide-Oni, who claimed to be a professor and lecturer at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, Osun State, has been arraigned before a Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos State for allegedly obtaining money under false pretence and engaging in advance fee fraud.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibadan zonal office, arraigned the ‘professor’ and 12 other internet fraud suspects before Justice Nicholas Oweibo, the Federal High Court vacation judge for the Southwest zone, on Wednesday.
A statement by Wilson Uwujaren, Head, Media and Publicity at EFCC, explained that Jide-Oni’s arraignment was a sequel to the Commission’s damning findings about the activities of an illegal financial outfit he floated through which he allegedly swindled his victims of several millions of naira.
Uwujaren in the statement said some of the victims had earlier written a petition to the EFCC which led to the investigations that indicted him in the alleged fraudulent act.
In a Facebook account belonging to Jideoni Charles, the timeline of the page included a series of advertisements for a Ponzi scheme called “JC WEALTHY GENERATION CONCEPTS – PROMO PLATFORM II”.
Charles who also claims on the page that he is an employee of the University of Ife usually share how people could earn millions after investing in his concept for as low as N1000.
His account is linked to two public pages on Facebook that dwell extensively on the scheme. In one of his posts, he had shared 12 bank accounts with different commercial banks in Nigeria. All he claimed linked to Jideoni Charles.
The ICIR checked up for two of the 12 accounts, and it belonged to him.
Meanwhile, the other 12 suspects equally arraigned by the EFCC on Wednesday were Olaleye Kolapo, Madukife Ifeanyi Azuka, Fatanmi Yinka Sunday, Adebayo Bolaji Adeyinka, Adeleke Peter and Adebowale Fadairo.
Others were Oyewunmi Toulope Michael, Bello Ayoade Jalal Arikalam, Owolabi Toheeb Toluope, Abdullahi Abdulazeez Oluwatobi, Temitope Fatolu and Adesina Adewale.
Fatolu (aka Gold Crumb), however, opted for a plea bargain and pleaded guilty to a one-count amended charge of fraudulent impersonation when he was presented before the court on Wednesday.
He was subsequently sentenced to one-year imprisonment with effect from June 20, 2019 when he was arrested.
‘Gold Crumb’ was also to return the sum of $500 (Five Hundred United States Dollars), through the Federal Republic of Nigeria, to his victim, and to equally forfeit his iPhone 6, Nokia 103 and Hp Laptop to the Federal government of Nigeria, being part of the benefit he derived from his fraudulent act.
Due to the bail application filed and argued by his lawyer on his behalf, Justice Oweibo granted Jide-Oni bail to the tune of N10 million and two sureties in like sum, Uwujaren said.
The sureties, the court held, must be of Grade Level 10 in the civil service and must be resident in Osogbo, the Osun State capital.
The judge also ordered that the accused person be remanded in Ilesha prison pending the time he is able to fulfil his bail conditions as he adjourned the substantive hearing to October 14.
Unlike Fatolu, other 11 suspects, who were charged with sundry internet-related offences including obtaining money by false pretence, impersonation, being in possession of forged and fraudulent documents to defraud people, pleaded not guilty to the respective charges preferred against them.
Consequent upon their not-guilty plea, EFCC counsel, Ben Ubi, crave the court for an order to remand them in prison and fix dates for the hearing of their cases.
The court granted the remand prayer, and also fixed different dates for the hearings.
He fixed October 7 for the hearing of Fatami’s, Adeleke’s, and Fadairo’s cases as he ordered that they were remanded in the Ilesha prison.
Olaleye and Azkuka were to be remanded in Ado-Ekiti prison till October 9 when their cases will be opened for hearing.
For Abdullahi, Oyewunmi and Bello, the hearings would hold on October 14. They were ordered to take shelter in Ilesha prison till then.
The judge equally fixed October 15 and 21 for hearing of Adesina’s and Owolabi’s respective cases while both will be housed in Ilesha prison pending the adjourned date.
Adebayo was, however, returned to the EFCC’s custody