Joseph Adele, Richie Ojeba and John Ogo were arraigned before the Special Offences Court sitting in Ikeja presided over by Justice Mojisola Dada.
The Lagos zonal office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission dragged the suspects to court for fraud of N65m.
A statement by the Head, Media and Publicity, EFCC, Wilson Uwujaren, said the convicts began their journey to prison after they connived to defraud the Managing Director of Wealth Builders Technical Services, Dr Joseph Mekiliuwa, through a phantom contract they claimed that Total Exploration and Production Nigeria Limited was offering for the installation of solar panels in the Egi community, Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
The statement read in part, “They were first arraigned in September 2020 on 15 counts bordering on conspiracy, stealing and obtaining by false pretences, to which they pleaded not guilty.
“However, on June 17, 2021, they changed their plea to guilty, when they were re-arraigned before the trial judge on amended three counts.”
One of the counts read, “That you, Joseph Worhabiko Adele (aka Joseph Azunda), Richie Edward Ojeba, John Ovie Ogo, Beauty Wugate Adele (still at large) and Hajia Jemila Yunusa (still at large), sometime in March 2019 in Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, conspired to steal the sum of N65,070,000, property of Dr Joseph Mekiliuwa, Managing Director, Wealth Builders Technical Services.”
The statement further said Ojeba was also accused of possessing fraudulent documents used to perpetrate the fraud.
In reviewing the facts against the convicts, the prosecuting counsel, S. O. Daji, told the court that the EFCC received a petition from the complainant in January 2020 accusing the defendants and others of defrauding him.
“Investigation was subsequently carried out and it was discovered that the complainant was defrauded of N65,070,000, with the three defendants being beneficiaries of the fraud,” he said.
Daji also told the court that, while the first defendant got N13,806,000, the second and third defendants shared N22,350,000 and N22,150,000, respectively.
He further informed the court, “As part of the plea bargain, the first defendant has so far refunded N6,000,000 to the complainant; the second defendant has so far refunded N20,000,000, while the third defendant has refunded N12,500,000.”
He tendered in evidence the statements made by the convicts to the EFCC as well as the fraudulent documents obtained from the third defendant.
The defendants were all convicted on count one and sentenced to six months’ imprisonment.
“They were sentenced to one year in prison on count two. The third defendant was further convicted on count three and sentenced to six months in jail. The sentences are to run concurrently. They were, however, given an option of N500,000 in lieu of the jail terms,” the statement added.