Justice P. I . Ajoku of the Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, on Tuesday October 10, 2023, convicted and sentenced Chika Eguma Ekwodu, an undergraduate student of Rivers State University to two years imprisonment for impersonation and obtaining money by false pretences.
The offence contravenes Section 22(2) (b) (ii) of the Cybercrime (Prohibition, Prevention, etc.) Act, 2015 and punishable under Section 22(2) (b) (iv) of the same Act.
He was prosecuted by the EFCC on two -count charges bordering on impersonation and obtaining money by false pretences.
One of the count charges read: “That you, Chika Eguma Ekwodu, on the 5th day of June, 2023, at Rivtaf Golf Estate Port Harcourt, within jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, did fraudulently represent yourself as one Scarlett, a bitcoin trade expert with intent to gain advantage for yourself, and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 22(2)(b)(ii) of the Cybercrime (Prohibition, Prevention, etc) Act, 2015 and punishable under Section 22(2) (b) (iv) of the same Act”.
He pleaded guilty to the two- count charges when they were read to him.
In view of his plea, prosecuting counsel, M. Abubakar after presenting a witness, prayed the court to convict and sentence him accordingly. However, defence counsel, N. F. Okemini prayed the court to temper justice with mercy, stressing that the defendant “is a first-time offender with no previous criminal records and a student who is currently writing his exams.” She therefore prayed the court for an option of fine in lieu of imprisonment to enable him continue his education.
Justice Ajoku convicted and sentenced the defendant to one year in the Correctional Service on each count with an option of fine of Two Hundred Thousand Naira (N200, 000.00), payable into the Consolidated Revenue Account of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The Judge further ordered that the purple- coloured iPhone 14 Pro and the sum of Four Thousand, Five Hundred United States Dollars ($4,500) that are proceeds of his crime, be forfeited to the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Additionally, the defendant shall also depose an affidavit of good behaviour before the court.
Ekwodu’s journey to the Correctional Centre started when he was arrested by operatives of the Port Harcourt Zonal Command of the EFCC, for internet-related offences. He was charged to court and convicted.