A High Court in Uyo, on Friday, sentenced Nwalozie Julius to three years imprisonment for impersonating the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele.
Justice Agatha Okeke said Mr Nwalozie’s sentence is without an option of fine, according to a statement by the anti-graft agency, EFCC, on Monday.
The convict was first arrested by operatives of the EFCC Uyo Zonal Office on December 6, 2019, and later charged on a one-count bordering on impersonation and obtaining by false pretence to the tune of N4.5million.
The EFCC said Mr Nwalozie’s arrest followed credible intelligence on the activities of internet fraudsters operating in Owerri, the Imo State capital.
According to part of charges, the convict committed the crime on August 26, 2019, by impersonating the CBN governor and using the email address, firstname.lastname@example.org, with intent to obtain money, property or any advantage from one Omar Deep and other unsuspecting persons.
The EFCC said his offence was contrary to Section 22 (2) (b) (ii) of the Cybercrime (Provision, Prevention Etc) Act, 2015 and punishable under Section 22 (2) (b) (iv) of the same Act.
In the course of his arrest, the commission said the convict had confessed to the crime and forensic analysis of the HP laptop recovered from him further implicated him.
It said several incriminating documents of false pretence and fraudulent extortions were printed from Mr Nwalozie’s laptop which he also admitted emanated from him.
The commission added that the investigation also revealed that the convict’s speciality was business email compromise (BEC) and his modus operandi involved searching for email addresses via Google search and sending convincing emails to his victims.
He pleaded guilty to the charge, prompting Joshua Abolarin, the prosecuting counsel, to pray the court to review the facts of the case through a prosecution witness, Haliru Bagudo, an operative of the EFCC.
While reviewing the facts of the case, the prosecution tendered various exhibits through Mr Bagudo, which were admitted in evidence. Consequently, Mr Abolarin asked the court to invoke Section 274 (2) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, ACJA and convict the defendant in view of the evidence adduced and the plea of the defendant.
In her judgment, Ms Okeke said she was satisfied with the evidence before the court that then the defendant was guilty as charged.
“Prosecution has proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant, Nwalozie Onyebuchi Julius, committed the offence as charged.
”I, therefore, convict you accordingly. The court equally takes cognisance of the spree with which fraudsters defraud innocent citizens and therefore sentence you Nwalozie Onyebuchi Julius to three years imprisonment with effect from the date of your arrest.”
Additionally, the convict forfeited his HP laptop, which was his instrument of crime as well as the N1 million recovered from him to the federal government.