An internet fraudster on the wanted list of the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) of the United States Department of Justice has been sentenced to two years imprisonment.
Abiona Festus was convicted and sentenced by Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo of the Lagos State Special Offences Court in Ikeja on Tuesday.
He was prosecuted by the Ilorin Zonal Office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the agency’s Head of Media and Publicity, Dele Oyewale, said in a statement.
Oyewale explained that the FBI, in a petition dated July 10, 2019, had appealed to the Ilorin zonal office of the EFCC to ensure Festus’ arrest and prosecution, for his roles in a multi-million naira international scam.
One of the charges read, “That you Abiona Akinyemi Festus (Ella Jones), sometime between January 2011- May 2016 at Lagos within the jurisdiction of this honourable court by means of fraudulent trick used the email address [email protected] to bypass online security and obtained the sum of N5,950,000 (Five Million, Nine Hundred and Fifty Thousand Naira), only from retirement accounts, held by an insurance company for public workers in the United States of America.”
When the charges were read to him during his arraignment, Festus pleaded guilty.
Thereafter, the EFCC Head of Advance Fee Fraud at the Ilorin zonal office, Olamide Sadiq, reviewed the facts of the case, which included that defendant was arrested based on a petition from the FBI linking him to the offence.
Justice Taiwo then convicted him as charged and sentenced him to one year imprisonment on each of the two counts, with a N300,000 option of fine on each of the counts.
The judge also ordered him to return the sums of money he cornered to the FBI.
In an earlier statement, Oyewale said EFCC operatives have arrested a serving soldier, Lance Corporal Ajayi Kayode, and 26 others for alleged internet fraud in the Lekki area of Lagos State.
Kayode, with service number NAF18/34732, was reportedly arrested in his military uniform during an early morning raid at 6B, Fatai Idowu Arobike, Lekki Phase 1, Lagos, on Saturday last week.
According to the EFCC spokesman, the arrest followed intelligence received from concerned members of the public about his alleged involvement in criminal activities.
The soldier was arrested alongside Kalu Emmanue, Hassan Sunday, Odinaka Okem, Victor Ochiabuito, Christopher Prince, Victor Ologhu, Alex Aka, Miracle Onyekwere, Habeeb Ayomide, Olakunle Ajeigbu, Rasheed Olanrewaju, and Salam Hakeem.
Others are Adeniran Nurudeen, Opeyemi Chris, Derrick Moris, Shehu Oluoti, Fuad Akinbayo, Babatunde Idowu, Uzo Nathaniel, Debowale Adedoyin, Shegun Emmanuel, Godswill Maduchem, Samson Kazeem, Oluwatobi Oluwatoba, Olaitan Ajao, and Oyindamola Kareem.
Kayode was said to have confessed that suspects in whose company he was arrested were his friends, adding that they had been teaching him how to make money through cybercrime.