Akwa Ibom State High Court, Uyo has sentenced three persons to various terms of imprisonment, for fraudulent deals under the cover of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and its sister agency, the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC).
Among the convicts was a cleric, Reverend Nobert Rampa, a 53-year-old native of Ekpene Ukim, in Uruan local government area, who was found guilty of defrauding people under false pretences of being a senior official of the two anti-graft agencies.
Others include a 34-year-old Gabriel Udo, a barber from Mbiafum Ikot Abasi village in Ini LGA, as well as a 52-year-old Patrick Essien, a patent medicine dealer from Uruan council.
The trial judge, Justice Archibong Archibong found them guilty of the charges of conspiracy, forgery and Impersonating public officers and convicted them under s 552, 112 and 495 of the Criminal Code Cap 38, Vol 2, Laws of Akwa Ibom State of Nigeria, 2000.
In the more than two hours’ judgement, Archibong held that “from the totality of the evidence of the and defence witnesses as well as the exhibits before the court, I am satisfied that the prosecution has proved the case against the accused persons as required by law.”
According to the particulars of the case, the complainant, a retired permanent secretary in the state’s civil service, had petitioned the EFCC over the activities of the convicts, whom he recalled brought him a letter of invitation in August 2018, purported to be from the EFCC for investigation, adding that it was later discovered to be a deliberate attempt to extort him.
“In June, 2019, they came back to me again under the umbrella of Grassroots Development Advocacy Initiative (GDAI), where Reverend Rampa, who claimed to be a man of God introduced himself as a senior intelligence investigating officer, working for ICPC and EFCC,” he recalled.
The retired civil servant stated that “Rev. Rampa had delivered a letter of investigation attaching details of all my properties and assets asking me to furnish their agencies (EFCC and ICPC) how I acquired the properties.”
However, relying on the facts deposed to by the prosecution, Justice Archibong held that “I have noted and read all the authorities cited in support and against the case and I am satisfied that all are in favour of the conviction of the accused.”
Consequently, Archibong sentenced the first and second accused persons to 25 years in imprisonment and the third accused, three years, explaining that “the sentences are to run concurrently”.