Currency Racketeering: Man To Enjoy Six Months Imprisonment

The Port Harcourt Zonal Command of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), on Thursday, March 21, 2024 secured the conviction and sentencing of Azubuike Mamwu Obasi before Justice P. I. Ajoku of the Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State for currency racketeering.

Obasi was jailed after pleading guilty to a four-count charge bordering on illegal acquisition of bank notes and carrying out banking services without an appropriate licence.

One of the charges reads: “That you, Azubuike Manwu Obasi, on or about the 15th day of February, 2024, at Port Harcourt, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, acquired and retained the cumulative sum of N554,600.00 (Five Hundred and Fifty-four Thousand, Six Hundred Naira) which you knew or reasonably ought to have known, forms part of your unlawful acts, selling or trading in Naira notes and carrying on banking business in Nigeria without a valid licence, and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 18 (1) and (2) (d) of the Money Laundering (Prevention and Prohibition) Act, 2022 and punishable under Section 18 (3) of the same Act.”

He pleaded guilty to the charges when they were read to him.

In view of the plea of the defendant, prosecuting counsel, E. K. Bakam prayed the court to convict and sentence him accordingly. Defence counsel, B. E. Onuoha, did not oppose the prayers of the prosecution but urged the court to temper justice with mercy maintaining that the defendant is a first time offender with no previous criminal records.

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Justice Ajoku thereafter found the defendant guilty as charged, sentenced him to six months in the Correctional Service on count one to four with N100,000( One Hundred Thousand Naira only) as an option of fine payable into the Consolidated Revenue Account of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Sentence is to run concurrently with effect from the date of arrest.

The court also made an order forfeiting to the Federal Government of Nigeria the sum of Five Hundred and Fifty Four Thousand, Six Hundred Naira (N554,600), Twenty Thousand Naira new bank notes and the POS device recovered from the convict. Additionally, the sum of Thirty Five Thousand Naira paid into the Access bank account of the convict by an EFCC covert operative was forfeited and returned to him. The convict should also depose an affidavit of good behavior.

Obasi’s journey to the Correctional Centre began when he was arrested for currency racketeering by operatives of the EFCC. He was charged to court and convicted.

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