Justice Agatha Okeke of the Federal High Court sitting in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State has convicted and sentenced an ex-convict, Ekemini Akininyene Effiong to eight months imprisonment for criminal impersonation and obtaining by false pretence to the tune of $75 (Seventy Five United States Dollars).
The convict was arraigned on Monday, May 30, 2022, alongside two others: Henry Izuchukwu Nze and Nze Francis Chike by the Uyo Zonal Command of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC. While Effiong and Chike were arraigned on two-count charges bordering on criminal impersonation and possession of fraudulent documents, Nze was arraigned on five-count charges bordering on criminal impersonation with intent to defraud.
This was disclosed in a statement issued on Wednesday by EFCC Spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren and made available to SWITCH NIGERIA.
According to the statement, when the charges were read to them, they all pleaded “guilty”.
Based on their pleas, counsel to the EFCC, S. R. Akinrinlade informed the court that the prosecution had witnesses in court to review the facts of the cases. However, the court adjourned for facts review, conviction and sentencing to Tuesday, May 31, 2022, for Effiong and Monday June 6, 2022 for Chike and Nze.
The charge against Effiong read: “That you, Ekemini Akaninyene Effiong a.k.a Ashley Smith sometime in February, 2022 in Nigeria within the jurisdiction of this honorable court with intent to obtain property and gain advantage for yourself, fraudulently presented yourself as Ashley Smith to one Blake Walters and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 22 (2) (2) (b) (i) of the Cybercrime (Prohibition, Prevention Etc) Act 2015 and punishable under Section 22 (2) (b) (iv) of the same Act”.
When the matter came up on Tuesday, Akinrinlade prayed the court to convict and sentence the defendant as charged.
Justice Okeke convicted and sentenced him to four (4) months imprisonment on each of the two counts without an option of fine. The sentence is to run concurrently.
Effiong had previously been convicted and sentenced to six months imprisonment by a Federal High Court in Port Harcourt, Rivers State on December 31, 2021. He was convicted by Justice Adamu Mohammed for impersonation, phishing and hacking of e-mail accounts. This makes him a two- time convict for cybercrimes.
Effiong’s fresh journey to the Correctional Centre started when he was arrested by operatives of the Uyo Zonal Command of the EFCC on February 9, 2022.
Investigations showed that the convict was impersonating female Americans on social media platforms like Hangout and Instagram to defraud his victims. He variously posed as Ashley Smith on Hangout and Ashley Adams on Instagram and used his profile to initiate chats with one Edward Pendlety and succeeded in defrauding him $75 (Seventy Five United State Dollars) in three places”