Justice Mohammed Owolabi of the Oyo State High Court 14, sitting in Iyaganku, Ibadan on Thursday, convicted one Hammed Babatunde Mutiu of visa racketeering and sentenced him to nine months in prison.
Hammed was facing a 16-count criminal charge of obtaining money under false pretense, uttering and forging documents in a suit filed against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibadan zonal office.
The charge was sequel to a petition jointly written by four of his victims in which he was alleged to have collected sums totaling N4, 350, 000 with the pretence that he had secured Canadian visas for them.
Count one of the charge reads: “That you Hammed Babatunde Mutiu on or about the 23rd of May, 2018, at Ibadan within the Ibadan Judicial Division of this honourable court with intent to defraud, obtained the sum of One Million Naira (N1, 000,000.00) only from one Zekeri Zakky Emestemhe by falsely pretending that it was part payment of the cost price of Canadian Visa you have secured for him, and thereby committed an offence.”
The court found him guilty in all the charges and convicted him accordingly.
While delivering his judgement, Justice Owolabi lamented the growing menace of visa racketeering and the consequence on the Nigerian people. He posited that culprits like Hammed deserve to be accordingly punished to serve as deterrence to others.
“The offence of which the defendant is charged is very rampant in our society. I therefore found the defendant guilty on counts 1 to 16 and thereby sentence the defendant to nine months imprisonment with hard labour with effect from today, 19th December, 2019,” the presiding judge held.
Apart from the N500, 000 earlier restituted, Justice Owolabi also ordered Hammed to deliver the sum of N200, 000 monthly through the EFCC to his victims ‘by way of restitution of part of the benefits he derived from his fraudulent acts.’
He was equally ordered to give up his Lexus RX 300 Jeep in the sum of N650, 000.00 as part payment of the restitution of the sums he obtained by false pretense.