Accra, Feb. 29, GNA - Nine Nigerians who forged letter heads of various Ministries and state institutions were on Friday sentenced to five years imprisonment each after they were found guilty on charges of conspiracy and possessing forged documents.They are Ibrahim Mato a.k.a Edward Mensah, Benson Nnadi, Budy Sampson, Raymond Popson, Ashanor Wright Waheed, and Adeotan Oluwafemi Adeniyi.
The rest are Abolade Oluwaseyi Toyosi and Ekpemadu Chukwu Andy. They pleaded not guilty but the court after the trial found them guilty and convicted them accordingly.
Mato was additionally sentenced to 18 months for possessing forged passports.
Victor Okechukwu Okoye Ibueze, aka Chairman, who has been on the run, was convicted in absentia.
The court further ordered that computers and accessories used in committing the crime be confiscated to the State.
The convicts were found in possession of letter heads and certificates from the Ghana Police Service, National Security, Office of the President, Attorney General Ministries of Defence, Interior, Finance and Economic Planning. Others were Narcotics Control Board, Auditor General, Bank of Ghana remittance certificates, SS-SSB certificate of remittance, Controller and Accountant General Internal Revenue, International Commercial Bank.
Deputy Superintendent of Police George Abavelim told the court the complainant in the case is a French national, whilst the accused persons were all Nigerians who claimd to be businessmen, traders, computer engineers and technicians, all resident at Achimota, Accra. DSP Abavelim said Ibueze is the leader of an advanced free fraud syndicate commonly known as "419" with the rest of the convicts as members.
He said the syndicate has an internet caf=E9 at house number 10 at Achimota manned by Popson, Waheed Toyosi who are all computer experts.
The syndicate also has a workshop at Alogboshi where their faulty computers were repaired and used as home of the rest of the convicts. As a result, prosecution said the syndicate has for some time now used their caf=E9 to prepare forged documents and convinced victims that huge sums of money were deposited in some banks in Ghana in their names. They therefore collected monies from unsuspecting people to process the collection of those monies from the banks.
Prosecution said the complainant, Gillet de Laumont Gilles was convinced by the accused that he had 8.5 million dollars bequeath to him at the SS-SSB Kokomlemle branch and had to pay 185,000 dollars for the release of the money.
Through some fraudulent correspondence and the forged documents Gilles was invited to Ghana.
On 25 May 2005, Gilles paid a sum of 35,000 dollars as part of payment in the presence of Ibueze, Mato, Nnadi, Sampson, and asked Gilles to return to Germany, and bring along the balance later. Prosecution said in France, Gilles discussed the transaction with a Ghanaian who told him that all the documents given to him had been forged, hence he should report the matter to the Police in Ghana. On August 16 2005, Ibueze invited Gilles to Ghana and he was met on arrival by some of the convicts who had park their Honda CRV and Toyota vehicles at obscure places near the Aviance Cargo Village. The police had already been alerted about the activities of the convicts.
Later on a tip off, the convicts were arrested at their hideouts at Alogboshie, near Achimota.
When their premises were searched, forged official document, computers and accessories, eight Ghanaian passports with two of them bearing the pictures of Mato with different names were retrieved. Prosecution said Nnadi later led the police to the "Office" at Achimota where they retrieved 10 computers, stationery, files with different names and assorted forged documents.