Magistrate Folashade Botoku of the Igbosere Magistrates’ Court has scentenced two men to a seven-year jail term for defrauding the United States consulate in Lagos of N50m.
The Special Fraud Unit of the Nigeria Police Force, Ikoyi, Lagos State, secured the conviction of two fake visa agents, Ismaila Adefila and Busari Kabiru, after they were found guilty of three counts bordering on conspiracy, forgery and stealing.
The convicts make payment for visa applicants, and were said to have doctored visa payment receipts of the United States of America B1 and B2 visa categories for over 350 applicants.
They manipulated the visa receipt of one applicant through CorelDraw software to generate receipt for other applicants, depriving the US consulate of N50m.
It was gathered that the convicts filled their personal phone numbers and email addresses on the visa application forms of the applicants.
The consulate petitioned the Commissioner of Police in charge of the SFU, Ikoyi, after which they were tracked and apprehended.
During the trial, the lead investigator for the prosecution, DSP Lawal Audu, told the court that Adefila applied for one Abdulafiz Ijale and one Bankole Salau, using one visa receipt for both applicants, adding that over 350 application forms had the phone numbers of the convict.
Audu noted that after a detailed investigation, the convicts could not be linked to any institution, adding that they were also not visa procurement officers of the consulate.
He explained that they edited visa receipts issued by Guaranty Trust Bank so same could be used for other applicants who had booked appointments.
The police officer added that Kabiru, who admitted to defrauding one applicant, was arrested on the premises of the Nigerian Army Post Exchange (NAPEX).
Delivering her judgement, Magistrate Botoku held that the convicts had tarnished the image of the country through their actions.
“I am constrained to say that the defendants, by their acts have exhibited greed. They are part of a group that wants to reap where it has not sown and thus constantly bring the country’s reputation to disrepute. I have taken that into consideration in passing sentence.
“The first defendant is hereby sentenced to three years’ imprisonment each on count one and two, while he is sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment on count three, and the second defendant is sentenced to three years’ imprisonment on count one and two each and seven years’ imprisonment on count three. The sentences are to run concurrently,” she said.
Audu, who commended the judgment, said the conviction of the men would bring sanity to the NAPEX premises, where he said visa fraud had been prevalent.