Ugwu Pascal and Ibrahim Sadiq who impersonated as operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) were on Tuesday arraigned before Justice O.O. Abike-Fadipe of the Special Offences Court sitting in Ikeja, Lagos.
The defendants were served on a five-count charge bordering on impersonation, attempt to obtain property, possession of documents containing false pretence and unlawfully wearing the uniform of the EFCC after their arrest in May 2021.
One of the counts read: “That you, Ugwu Pascal Chijioke and Ibrahim Sadiq Adekunle, on or about the 12th day of May, 2021 in Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, by false pretence and with intent to defraud, attempted to obtain property from one Oriyomi Johnson under the pretext that the “Chief Magistrate Court, Lagos State Judiciary, Mushin, Lagos” issued an Order to the effect that the property located at New Horizon Estate, Lekki– Ikate, Lagos be seized and the said apartment sealed pending the arrival of the said Oriyomi Johnson, which representation you knew to be false and committed an offence of attempt to obtain property by false pretense contrary to Sections 8(b) of the Advanced Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act, 2006 and punishable under Section11(3) of the same Act.”
Another count read: “That you, Ugwu Pascal Chijioke and Ibrahim Sadiq Adekunle, on or about the 12th day of May, 2021 in Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court not being a person holding any office in or authority of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, wore a jacket bearing the official mark of the Commission, which was calculated to convey the impression that you held such authority and committed an offence of unlawfully wearing the uniform of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission contrary to Section 79(1) (b) of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2011.”
They, however, pleaded not guilty to the charge preferred against them.
In view of their not guilty plea, the prosecution prayed the Court to present its first prosecution witness, PW1, Adekeyin Ademola.
Ademola, Assistant Chief Registrar, Lagos State High Court, led in evidence by the prosecuting counsel, Bilkisu Buhari, told the court that his office received a letter from the EFCC seeking the verification of some documents to aid its investigation.
“Upon receipt of the letter, we sent it to our Records Department and found out that the document did not emanate from the judiciary.
“So, a response was written back to the EFCC containing my findings.”
When he was asked by the prosecution counsel how he came to the conclusion that the document did not emanate from his office, he answered, saying, “On the face of the document, the heading is wrong. That is not how the headings on court processes are written. We do not have a magistrate court in Mushin.
“The suit number on the document is that of the Federal High Court, and not the Magistrate Court.
“Furthermore, the name of the supposed Commissioner for Oaths does not exist in the judiciary. It is not a known name. Also, the date on the document fell within the period when the judiciary staff were on strike.
“The cashier stamp on the document does not conform with the current cashier stamp.
“And as it is the procedure of the judiciary, every Order of the court must have a seal from the court, which is lacking in this one.”
The defence counsel, Tosin Soiga, brought an application, praying the court to admit the defendants to bail.
Justice Fadipe acceded to the prayers of the defence for the first defendant, but refused bail for the second defendant on the grounds that his written address was not signed.
Consequently, the Judge admitted the first defendant to bail in the sum of N1,000,000.00 and two sureties in like sum.
The judge also held that “the two sureties must be gainfully employed and shall depose to an affidavit of means.
“The sureties must produce their three years tax clearance certificate.
“One of the sureties must be a titled owner of a landed property within the jurisdiction of the court and the documents are to be verified at the Lagos State Lands Registry.
“All documents of the defendants and his two sureties are to be verified by the Chief Registrar of the Court.”
Justice Fadipe adjourned to October 15, 2021, for the continuation of trial and ordered the defendants to be remanded in the Correctional facility.
The defendants allegedly used false documents to impersonate officials of the EFCC and extorted unsuspecting members of the public.
Items recovered from the defendants at the point of arrest included fake EFCC identity cards, jackets, and a court order purported to have emanated from Mushin Magistrate Court.