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Nigerian extradited from Malaysia convicted for $6.3m fraud in US

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A federal jury in New Haven, Connecticut, Wednesday, convicted an extradited Nigerian, Okechukwu Osuji, for operating a business email compromise scheme out of multiple countries, including the United States.

A statement from the US Department of Justice on Thursday said Osuji and his co-conspirators- John Wamuigah and Tolulope Bodunde- fleeced their victims of over $6.3m.

The jury convicted Osuji of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, and aggravated identity theft.

He is scheduled to be sentenced on July 24 and faces a mandatory minimum of two years on the identity theft count and a maximum penalty of 60 years in prison on the wire fraud and conspiracy counts.

A Federal District Court judge will determine any sentence after considering the US Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Osuji was arrested in Malaysia and extradited to the US in 2022. His alleged co-conspirator, Wamuigah, remains in Malaysia and is pending extradition proceedings.

Another co-conspirator, Bodunde, pleaded guilty on February 16.

According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, Osuji, 39, and his co-conspirators targeted specific individuals and businesses by masquerading as trustworthy entities in electronic communications to obtain money.

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They utilized unwitting and witting “money mules” to receive fraud proceeds in their bank accounts, and then transferred those funds to accounts under the control of Osuji and his co-conspirators or to convert the stolen proceeds to cash for further transfer.

Throughout the scheme’s years-long operation, numerous victims were tricked into transferring funds into bank accounts the victims believed were under the control of legitimate recipients of the funds as part of normal business operations, when in reality, the bank accounts were controlled by Osuji and his co-conspirators.

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“Osuji led a network of scammers in Malaysia and elsewhere in a sophisticated business email compromise scheme to defraud victims of millions of dollars,” the Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General and Head of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Nicole Argentieri, said.

In her comments on the conviction, the Attorney for the District of Connecticut, Vanessa Avery, stated, “Today’s conviction is another example of how the department’s collaboration with international law enforcement partners enables us to bring cybercriminals to justice in the United States.

“While it is often difficult to identify and bring to justice cybercriminals operating overseas, today’s verdict demonstrates the expertise of the FBI and Stamford Police in uncovering this criminal network, and the shared commitment of our counterparts in Malaysia to ensure that fraudsters are held accountable in a court of law.

“We will continue to work to root out those who engage in internet fraud schemes, no matter where in the world they operate and achieve justice for victims of these crimes.”

“The defendant perpetrated a complex international business email compromise scheme and laundered millions in stolen proceeds. This conviction is the result of hard work and close collaboration between the FBI and our local and international partners.

‘’Together, we will work aggressively to bring to justice anyone who engages in fraud and theft against Americans, no matter where they are in the world,’’ said Executive Assistant Director Timothy Langan Jr. of the FBI’s Criminal, Cyber, Response, and Services Branch.

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Ex-Kogi Gov Bello’s trial for alleged N80.2Bn graft stalled again, to appear in court June 27

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Follow AGF’s advice, submit to EFCC – Group tells Yahaya Bello
Former Governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello

The arraignment of former Kogi State Governor Yahaya Bello for alleged N80.2 billion fraud slated for Thursday was stalled again as the case was adjourned to June 27 based on requests from both counsels in the case.

Bello, who was expected in court on Thursday, before Justice Emeka Nwite at the Federal High Court Abuja on a 19-count charge, was absent.

According to the EFCC, through the counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo (SAN), the court had previously adjourned the case on May 10 with the expectation that Bello would be present for arraignment today.

However, Bello’s lawyer, Adeola Adedipe (SAN), argued there was a misunderstanding.

He claimed the lead prosecutor, Kemi Pinheiro (SAN), had suggested to his colleague, Aliyu AbdulWahab, of postponing the arraignment to June 27 for convenience sake during an informal meeting outside of court.

Adedipe stated that he was surprised to find EFCC lead counsel, absent from the court today.

“They (EFCC) agreed that junior counsel would be sent to court today to formally pick a date. And the registry can confirm this.

“Kemi Pinhero, SAN, has been calling us to say today is not convenient,” Adedipe said, accusing the prosecution of attempting to “ambush” him.

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The EFCC prosecutor, Rotimi Oyedepo (SAN), countered by saying the defense team was misrepresenting the situation. He argued that holding an unofficial meeting was not a valid reason for Bello’s absence and called for an apology to the court.

“Assuming without conceding that there was a conversation between the counsel for Bello and the prosecution (outside the court), to have this matter adjourned, the fundamental issue today is compliance with the order of my lord; to with, the appearance of the defendant,” he said.

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According to Adedipe, Yahaya Bello was prepared to appear today as originally scheduled.

“Under 266 ACJA there are instances when defendants don’t need to come and this is one of them.

“We came here to pick a date. Of what use will the defendant coming here be? It is the prosecuting counsel that approached us, we did not approach them. We have nothing to hide,” Adedipe argued.

After hearing the arguments from both sides, the judge acknowledged the confusion and accepted the defense team’s apology.

“I am minded to take the apology on the ground that the defendant is making a fresh undertaking that the defendant (Bello) will be produced on June 27.

“The matter is adjourned to June 27 for arraignment,” the judge ruled.

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Alleged N80bn Fraud: Yahaya Bello to appear in court for trial today

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Ex-Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello

After several months of hide-and-seek between the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the former governor of Kogi state, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, the ex-governor is expected to appear before the Federal High Court in Abuja on June 13 for arraignment on the corruption charge against him.

The former governor, through his lawyer, finally agreed to submit himself to the court at the last adjourned date.

Bello’s lead counsel, Abdulwahab Mohammed, gave the undertaking to Justice Emeka Nwite on May 10, shortly after the court rejected the defendant’s request for suspension of trial.

According to him, the former governor was not afraid of arraignment but of the safety of his life in the hands of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in Abuja.

He said the life of his client has been under consistent threats in Abuja, hence his decision to go underground for safety.

The agreement to submit to court trial was informed by Justice Nwite’s remarks that the EFCC, as a law-abiding body, would not do anything contrary to the provisions of the law.

The judge said Bello was not the first former governor to be merely invited by the anti-graft agency and would not be the last.

The judge also said that the charges are based on allegations that have not been proved, adding that the law presumes any accused person innocent until proven otherwise.

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He advised the senior lawyer to prevail on his client to respect the law and order of the court as a law-abiding person.

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Bello’s lawyer, responding to the admonition, thanked the Judge for the hint, adding that, with the assurance that the EFCC would not do anything untoward, the former governor would be brought to court.

“All my client needs is just an assurance for the safety of his life, which has been under threat for some time in Abuja.”

The lawyer requested for four weeks to bring his client before the court.

He said Bello would, however, come to the court instead of the EFCC to take his plea in the charges.

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‘I did my Dobale’, Tinubu breaks silence on Democracy Day fall at Eagle Square

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Minimum Wage: FG denies offering N105,000
President Bola Tinubu

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu late yesterday, Wednesday, June 12, 2024, broke his silence on a viral video on social media where he missed his steps and tripped earlier in the day during the proceedings at the Democracy Day Parade at Eagle Square, Abuja.

Speaking at the Democracy Day Dinner, Tinubu, a Yoruba from South West Nigeria, said tongue-in-cheek that he was only performing a traditional Yoruba gesture of respect.

“Early this morning, I had a swagger and it is on social media. They are confused on whether I was doing Buga or doing Babariga but it is a day to celebrate democracy while doing ‘dobale’ for the day. I am a traditional Yoruba boy and I did my Dobale,”

The president also underscored the importance of national orientation and collective effort in fostering a prosperous future for the country.

“Nigeria is blessed, our complexity, our diversity is there, but is the best road to success. Whatever we have to invest in our national orientation, we have to do it,” Tinubu declared, stressing the need for a concerted effort to instill a sense of service and patriotism among Nigerians.

He also noted that the nation’s national anthem encapsulated the essence of service, a value he observed being practiced by many governors across the country.

He expressed his gratitude to the governors, acknowledging their dedication to serving their people irrespective of their political affiliations.

“We include in our national anthem, the essence of service. I have seen many governors, both live and on tv, serving their people. They belong to other parties and many of them are here tonight. Thank you, Governor Eno, of Akwa Ibom, thank you Governor Okpara, my comrade from Kaduna, thank you, Sheriff and Abia, thank you. If I miss you, forgive me. Everybody has forgotten the partisanship column and embraced that green, white, green that depicts Nigeria.”

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Acknowledging criticisms of the national anthem, he called on governors to redouble their efforts in fostering a sense of duty and national character among citizens.

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“Citizenship is not just the dictionary meaning of it, it is the actual character. Let us teach this to our children, so that Nigeria collectively, we will do the job that we are called upon to do as both family or nation under God almighty,” Tinubu urged.

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