Court Sentences Notorious Fraudster to 235 Years in Prison, Orders EFCC to Sell His Properties to Pay Victims
- Nigeria's anti-graft agency has secured a high-profile conviction as the Federal High Court in Uyo sentenced Scales Olatunji Ishola to 235 years in prison
- The court also ordered EFCC to sell Ishola's properties and give the proceeds to his victims who are Norwegians
- The EFCC had arrested Olatunji in 2019 at his Ikota, Lekki’s residence based on a petition from the Oslo Police District in Norway
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Justice Agatha Okeke of the Federal High Court, Uyo, Akwa Ibom state capital, has convicted and sentenced Scales Olatunji Ishola, to 235 years imprisonment over N525 million fraud.
Ishola, described as a notorious international fraudster, was accused of internet fraud and money laundering and found guilty by the court.
The convict was dragged to court by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
He was arraigned in July 2019 on 45-count charges which border on identity theft, money laundering, and conspiracy, according to a statement by the EFCC.
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Ishola had pled not guilty to the charges, setting the stage for the court trial.
Charges against Scales Olatunji
One of the counts reads:
“That you, Scales Olatunji Ishola “M”, Meraiyebu Charles “M”(at large), Gabriel Adeyemi Olugbenga “M”(at large), Ojomo Oluwatobi Ayodele “M”(at large) and Adekola Oluwatoyin “M”(at large), between January 2017 to October 2018, in Nigeria, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court conspired amongst yourselves to convert the total sum of N525,172,580.00 (Five Hundred and Twenty Five Million, One Hundred and Seventy-two Thousand, Five Hundred and Eighty Naira) only, which sum you reasonably ought to have known forms part of proceeds of unlawful activities to wit: fraud (Business E-mail Compromise and Identity Theft), and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 18 (a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 (as amended) and punishable under Section 15 (3) of the same Act.”
Another count reads:
“That you, Scales Olatunji Ishola “M” on or about the 15th day of May 2018, in Nigeria, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court with intent to defraud did send electronic messages (email) using firstname.lastname@example.org to one Monica Goulmoen of the Charity Association for providing girls and boys in Kobane with a football pitch, while impersonating a certain Per Ravn Omdal, a former Norwegian Football Association President, demanding the sum of €64,000.00 (Sixty-Four Thousand Euros) to be transferred to you via IBAN GB74HBUK40062132722119 which was paid and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 22 (3)(b) of the Cybercrimes (Prohibition, Prevention, etc) Act 2015 and punishable under Section 22 (4) of the same Act”.
EFCC tenders 35 exhibits in court
EFCC ‘s counsel, Nwandu Ukoha opened the case on November 7, 2019 and subsequently tendered 35 exhibits through four prosecution witnesses, which were all admitted in evidence against the defendant.
He closed the case on January 29, 2021, for the defence to open its defence.
Both the prosecution and defence counsel adopted their written addresses in October 2021, before the court adjourned for judgment.
The EFCC had arrested Ishola on March 20, 2019 at his Ikota, Lekki’s residence based on a petition from the Oslo Police District in Norway, requesting the assistance of the EFCC in investigating a network of Nigerians that had defrauded Norwegian citizens for years.
Investigations revealed that the convict belonged to a syndicate of internet fraudsters who specialized in Business Email Compromise-BEC.
Court delivers verdict
Delivering judgment on Monday, June 27, Justice Okeke convicted Olatunji on all the 45-counts preferred against him by the EFCC.
The judge sentenced Olatunji to seven years imprisonment on counts one to five, and five years imprisonment on counts six to forty-five. The sentence, shall, however, run concurrently with effect from the date of arrest.
The court also ordered that the money in the convict’s account be forfeited to Norwegian citizens through the EFCC.
Also, his properties: House No. 6, located on Road 2 West-end Estate, Ikota, Lekki, Lagos state and House No. 10, Donatus Odum Street, Ikate, Lagos State are to be sold by the EFCC and the proceeds restituted to the Norwegian victims.
Ganiyu Daniel Tairu said on Facebook:
"We are yet to see the same judgement on corrupt politicians by our courts, it double standards, one judgement for yahoo boys and another for corrupt politicians and civil servants."
Kikem Johnson Nansak said:
"Commendable. That means those who stole up to N80Billion should expect nothing less than 30,000 years imprisonment."
Yusuf Momoh said:
"If you can do the crime, be prepared to do the time. Ultimately, a life of crime never pays."
ComradeSaliu Kabir Badmus said:
"Mathematically, if this man could be given 235 years prison term then many Nigerian politicians deserve 100 trillion years."
Cyril C Obi said:
"That's my annoyance with our judiciary, if this case with the huge amount involved any politically exposed person believe me the court will just jail the culprit for on 2 years or less with an option of fine.
"Our judiciary system is doomed."
EFCC says landlords giving out houses to Yahoo Boys risk 15-year jail term
In another report, the EFCC has said that landlords who rent out their houses to internet fraudsters, popularly known as Yahoo Boys, risk going to jail for 15 years.
The anti-graft agency also said that Hoteliers who accommodate the fraudsters also face the same fate.
The stern warning to landlords was contained in an e-flier of a scheduled Twitter Space discussion to be hosted by the EFCC.