Justice Agatha Okeke of the Federal High Court sitting in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State on Friday, March 5, 2021, convicted one Henry Mfon Asuquo, on a two-count charge bordering on impersonation, cybercrime, and fraud.
The convict was arrested by the Uyo zonal office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission EFCC, on January 3, 2019, at Ayara Street, Nungu Uko in Ibesikpo Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State, following a petition by one Itoro Tom alleging that the convict swapped her Subscriber Identification Module (SIM) card, and fraudulently withdrew N700, 000 (Seven Hundred Thousand Naira) from her account domiciled at First City Monument Bank, FCMB.
An investigation into the matter revealed that the convict had been parading himself as military personnel, as military uniforms, military boots, and bulletproof jackets were recovered from his home during a search.
He admitted to the crime and refunded a sum of N100, 000. 00 (One hundred thousand naira) to the petitioner. Surprisingly, he pleaded ‘not guilty’ upon arraignment.
In the course of trial, Adebayo Soares presented two witnesses; Tom Itoro Edet (PW1) and Suleiman Abba (PW2) who tendered various items, including the military kits, the convict’s phone, and a response letter from the Nigeria Army, which were admitted in evidence.
On October 18, 2019, when Soares presented Abba, an operative of the EFCC, and sought to tender the convict’s statements, the defence counsel, Utomo Okon Essien objected to the admissibility of the statements on the grounds that they were obtained under duress. The matter was then adjourned to November 15, 2019, for trial-within-trial.
The trial-within-trial commenced on November 15, 2019, as the prosecution opened its case.
However, the trial-within-trial took a new turn on Friday March 5, 2021. When the matter was called, the defence counsel, Dennis Adiaka informed the court of his client’s intention to change his plea. The application was granted and the convict changed his plea from “not guilty” to “guilty”.
Following his ‘guilty’ plea, Abba a prosecution witness re-tendered the statements of the convict, which were all admitted and marked exhibit P10 A to F.
In his Judgment, Justice Okeke held that the evidence of the prosecution witnesses proved the ingredients of the offences in counts 1 and 2 of the charge.
He therefore convicted Asuquo on both counts and ordered that he be remanded at the Correctional facility in the state until March 23, 2021, when he will be sentenced.