An Ikeja High Court on Thursday sentenced a 25-year-old, Patrick Ezeji, to two years imprisonment for defrauding a Canadian woman, Sheila Griffiths, of 32,220 dollars.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the convict, who was arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on a two-count charge of conspiracy to steal and stealing, had entered a plea bargain.
He had promised to refund the woman’s stolen money. Ezeji has only refunded 2,220 dollars out of the 32,220 dollars.
Justice Kudirat Jose, while sentencing Ezeji, said his punishment should serve as a deterrent to youths who might want to tow the path of crime.
"I have listened to the allocutus of Mr Victor Okpara and I have considered that the defendant has promised to pay the outstanding balance of the money to the victim.
"I am of the view that young people should desist from deceiving people to part with their hard-earned money.
"The defendant is hereby sentenced to two years in prison; the sentence starts from the first day of the judgment.
"This should serve as a deterrent to other young people considering a life of crime,’’ she ruled.
Earlier, Counsel to Ezeji, Mr Victor Okpara in his allocutus, had pleaded with the court to temper justice with mercy.
He said:"My Lord, the defendant did not waste the time of the court, he is 25 years of age and he has just been admitted to study Political Science at the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN).
"He is a first time offender and he is doing restitution as contained in the plea bargain arrangement.
"He has been incarcerated since Dec. 3, 2012, in the prison environment, he is well known as a talented graphic design artist, he will use his skill more productively and with the fear of God if he is released into the society.’’
The EFCC, represented by Mrs Anita Imo, had alleged that Ezeji and an accomplice, Anthony Okpara, conspired to steal 32,220 dollars online from Sheila Griffiths.
She said the victim upon realising that she had been scammed, contacted the Canadian High Commission which in turn petitioned the EFCC.
The offences contravened Sections 390 and 516 of the Criminal Code, Laws of Lagos State, 2003.
NAN also reports that Justice Jose fixed Oct. 18 and Oct. 19 for the trial of Anthony Okpara, the accomplice of Ezeji.