By G9ija

Two young men have been convicted and sentenced to 13 years imprisonment respectively by the Lagos State Magistrate Court, Igbosere, for stealing a total sum N50 million, proceeds of United States of America visa fees.

The convicts, Ismail Adefila and Busari Kabiru, were docked before Magistrate Folashade Botoku, on a three-count charge bordering on fraud, forgery, and stealing.

The convicts, who earlier pleaded not guilty to the charge when they were first arranged, were charged alongside Friday Attah, who was discharged and acquitted.

According to the charge against them, the trio conspired with one other, now at large

to commit felony to wit forgery and stealing, thereby, committed an offence contrary to and punishable under Section 409 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State of Nigeria 2011.

They were alleged to have made false visa payment receipts of United States of America B1 ad B2 visa categories for fresh applicants and to be acted upon as genuine to the prejudice of United States Consulate Lagos and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 363 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State 2011.

They were also alleged to have stolen the sum of N50,000,000.00 being proceeds of United States of America visa fees.

During the trial, the prosecution called two witnesses and tendered several exhibits. The two witnesses who testified for prosecution were Abdulafis Olayimlka Ijale and DSP Lawal Audu, who was the Investigating Police Officer (IPO).

However, all the defendants denied involvement in the crime.

Delivering the judgment, Botoku found the first and second defendants guilty of the charge pressed against them but discharged and acquitted the third defendant.

She said: “In the instant case, evidence adduced by prosecution was that the first and second defendants engaged in touting and assisting persons to make visa payments for applicants at GTB.

“From the evidence adduced, the modus operandi of the first and second defendants were to use the receipt of one applicant, manipulate the same using the Corel draw application and Microsoft word for other applicants. To further establish the criminal intent, the telephone numbers of Adefila were contained in the visa applications which obviously do not belong to him.

“The first defendant admitted that he made a payment on behalf of Mr. Ijale. He admitted making payment for Bankole Oyindamola. He, however, never paid the visa fee for Bankole OyindamoIa and Mr Ijale to the Consulate through the bank. Rather the receipt of Priscilla Oladejo, was manipulated and presented as the receipt of Bankoie Oyindamola, while the receipt of Abiola Salau, was also used for ljale.

“The second defendant admitted making payment for Mr. Oyebanji, whose receipt he used for another customer whose name he could not remember. The first and second defendants repaid N62,400 and N31,200 respectively.

“The attempt to deny culpability on the ground that they were compelled to make the repayments is a lame excuse in view of the overwhelming evidence, being the bundle of receipts tendered as exhibits before the court.

“For instance, Exhibit ’13’ (receipt detail) for Priscilla Oluwasemilore Oladejo, bears the same receipt number on exhibit ‘6’ which is the receipt of Bankole Oyindamola Oreoluwa. The second defendant in his statement tendered as exhibit ‘M1’ admitted that he used the receipt issued for Mr Olabanji, for another applicant whose name he could not remember.

“I have listened to the allocutus by defence counsel and the prosecutor’s request that maximum punishment be imposed. I have considered both parties’ prayers, the first and second defendants have exhibited greed. They are part of a group who want to reap where they have not sown and thus constantly bringing the country’s reputation to disrepute. I hereby find first and second defendants guilty and sentenced them accordingly.

“For count one and two, three years imprisonment each, and for count three, seven years imprisonment. The above sentences are to run concurrently,” the court ruled.