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EFCC: Internet fraudster jailed for impersonation, fraud

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Justice Maureen Adaobi Onyetenu of the Federal High Court in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, handed down a prison sentence to an internet fraudster, Prince Mbang Uba, who faced two counts of criminal impersonation and obtaining money under false pretenses amounting to three hundred United States dollars ($300).

One of the charges read: “That you, Prince Mbang Uba (aka Sophia Johnson), in 2023 in Nigeria within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, with intent to obtain property and gain an advantage for yourself, fraudulently presented yourself as Sophia Johnson on a social media platform (Facebook) and obtained the sum of three hundred United States dollars ($300) only from one Bernie Smith, and thereby committed an offense contrary to Section 22(2)(b)(i) and (ii) of the Cyber Crime (Prohibition, Prevention, etc.) Act 2015 and punishable under Section 22(b)(iv) of the same Act.”

Uba pleaded guilty to the charges, and the prosecuting counsel, Victor Ukagwu, presented the convict’s statements, his iPhone X, and all the incriminating documents printed from his phone as evidence. The court admitted these pieces of evidence. Ukagwu then requested that the court convict and sentence Uba accordingly. However, defense counsel, Innocent Eze, pleaded for leniency and asked the court to show mercy. The court subsequently convicted and sentenced Uba to one year in prison or a fine of N500,000 (five hundred thousand Naira only).

Uba’s legal troubles began when he was arrested by the EFCC on June 6, 2023, in Calabar, Cross River State, for engaging in online criminal activities. Investigations revealed that he specialized in impersonating foreign nationals and defrauding unsuspecting victims through social media platforms.

In a related development, Justice Onyetenu remanded lawyer Imoh Johnson Ekong at the Uyo Correctional Facility on September 25, 2023, over an alleged N12 million property fraud.

Ekong was arrested in 2017 based on a petition by Ime Akpan Umo, who claimed that he had paid Ekong N12 million as part-payment for a property in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State. However, Umo could not make the full payment of N28 million for the property because he discovered that the Power of Attorney presented by Ekong was allegedly forged and that the property had already been sold to someone else.

Ekong was initially granted bail in 2019 but jumped bail. He was subsequently re-arrested by EFCC operatives and arraigned on Monday, September 25, 2023, on a two-count charge of stealing and criminal conversion.

One of the charges against him reads: “That you, Barr. Imoh Johnson Ekong, on or between March and April 2015 in Uyo within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, did use the sum of Twelve Million Naira (N12,000,000), property of Ime Akpan Umo, which you reasonably ought to have known formed proceeds of unlawful acts, to wit, stealing by fraudulent conversion, and thereby committed an offense contrary to Section 15 (2)(d) of the Money Laundering Act 2011 (as amended) and punishable under Section 15 (3) of the same Act.”

Ekong pleaded not guilty to the charges, and given his previous bail-jumping history, the prosecuting counsel requested that he be remanded at the Uyo Correctional Facility. Justice Onyetenu granted the request and adjourned the matter until October 19, 2023, for a hearing on Ekong’s bail application.

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