An Ikeja Special Offences Court has granted bail to Abimbola Awe, a 23-year-old student of Moshood Abiola Polytechnic, Ogun, charged with defrauding two foreign women of $750.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that prior to the bail hearing, Awe had been remanded for over a month at the Ikoyi Prisons, following his arraignment on three counts of obtaining money by false pretence and possession of the false document.
He had pleaded not guilty to the three counts which were brought against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
During proceedings on Friday, Awe’s counsel, Mr Frank Eze, in an application dated July 26, asked the court to grant the student bail on liberal terms.
“The defendant is a 23-year-old boy, he is a student of Moshood Abiola Polytechnic, Ogun State and the charge is for just $750,” he said.
Mrs Zainab Ettu, the prosecuting counsel for the EFCC, however, objected to the defence counsel referring to Awe as a ‘boy’ in his submission.
“The defence cannot call a 23-year-old adult a boy; he is a full grown man who is conscious of his actions and the consequences thereof.
“The amount is not in issue, the person who stole N1 is as guilty as the person who stole N100m; their attitude shows how they regard this matter.
“We will like to seek an accelerated hearing in this case, as it is a very direct matter and there are only two witnesses who are going to testify,” Ettu said.
Justice Mojisola Dada, in a ruling granting Awe bail, noted that the defence had claimed that the student was suffering from malaria and that his stay at the Ikoyi Prisons would affect his health.
“The onus put by the prosecution is not enough to deny the defendant bail.
“The fact that he claimed to be of ill health which seems to be the norm among defendants these days, though it may be relative, is not enough to deny him bail.
“The applicant is granted bail of N200,000 with one surety who must be a property owner who must submit his utility bill to the registrar of the court.” the judge said.
According to the EFCC, the student committed the offences sometime in 2017 in Lagos.
“The defendant by false pretence and with intent to defraud obtained the sum of 500dollars from one Barbara by falsely representing to her that she had won a lottery.
“Awe falsely claimed that the said sum represented clearance fees for the release of the lottery winnings.
“The defendant also fraudulently obtained 250dollars from one Karen by representing to her that she had won a lottery and that the said sum also represented clearance fees for the release of the lottery winnings.
“He also had in his possession, a document headed ”Why Did You Contact Us Late?” which he sent from his email address email@example.com to one firstname.lastname@example.org which contained a pretence which he knew was false,” Ettu said.
The nationality of Awe’s alleged victims was however not disclosed by the anti-graft agency.
The offences contravene Sections 1(1)(a), 1(3) and 6 of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Related Offences of 2006.
Justice Mojisola Dada adjourned the case until Oct. 11 for trial.