Fraud: Court Jails Film Producer, Seun Egbegbe, 7 Years

Egbegbe And His Cohorts When first They were First Arraigned

Fraud: Court Jails Film Producer, Seun Egbegbe, 7 Years

A Lagos Federal High Court, has convicted and sentenced Nollywood filmmaker and producer, Olajide Kareem, aka Seun Egbegbe, to seven years imprisonment ‘with hard labour’ for multimillionaire fraud.

The court, however, set Mr. Kareem free because he had exceeded the imprisonment time in detention.

Justice Oluremi Oguntoyinbo convicted and sentenced Egbegbe on Tuesday, after convicting him of one of the 40-count charge filed against him by the police.

The trial began on February 10 2017, and on Tuesday, October 11, Justice Oguntoyinbo found Egbegbe guilty of count 19 of the 40-count charge filed against him and set him free.

The judge also freed the four other defendants.

Justice Oguntoyinbo declared that 39 of the 40 counts crumbled because of a lack of witnesses to substantiate their claims.

She also decried that the prosecuting team failed in the responsibility to produce evidence, to be backed with witnesses on counts 4, 19 and 21.

The judge also said that police tampered with the money recovered from the suspects and ruled that all the money recovered from Egbegbe as evidence should be returned to him.

Justice Oguntoyinbo held: “having considered the entirety of the circumstances and taking judicial notice of the allocutus, I hereby sentence the 1st Defendant (Kareem) to imprisonment for a term of Seven {7} years with hard labour, only in respect of Count 19 of the Amended Charge. 

“The term is to begin from the very first date the 1st defendant was detained in police custody and/or remanded in prison, whichever comes first. I so hold. This is to send a clear message to all and sundry, the young and as well as the old, the unknown and the famous that, regardless of the number of days a crime goes unpunished, the law would definitely take its course in due course.

“Most importantly, the prosecution witnesses’ contradictory testimonies have failed to satisfy the exact various sums of money contained in the majority of the unviable and unsupported counts of charges filed against the 1st Defendant. I so hold. 

“From the avalanche of evidence before this Honourable Court, it is crystal clear the Nigerian Police tampered with the various sums of money collected from the 1st & 2nd Defendants. The serial number of the various sum of money was not recorded by the Exhibit Keeper nor the Exhibit Ledger tendered before this Honourable Court.

“The Nigerian Police Force, Lagos State Police State Criminal Investigation & Intelligence Department, Panti, Yaba and the entire Lagos Police Command and sadly its Legal Department have failed in the discharge of these solemn responsibilities to present the actual exhibits before this Honourable Court. I so hold.

“These law enforcement agencies should not be seen to play hanky – panky with crucial items necessary for the determination of issues of this ilk. I so hold. 

“Therefore, I am inclined to direct the registrar of this Honourable Court to return the first and second defendants’ sums of money entered as exhibits before this Honourable Court back to the first and second defendants respectively. I so hold. 

“I hereby acquit and discharge the second, third, fourth and fifth defendants from the charges levelled against them.

“This is the judgment of this Honourable Court read in an open court.”

The actor was arraigned by the police in February 2017 on 36 counts of advance fee fraud involving N39 million; $90,000 and £12,550.

The police alleged that he fraudulently obtained the money from no fewer than 40 Bureau De Change operators in Lagos for two years, between 2015 to 2017.

The erstwhile Lagos socialite pleaded not guilty and was remanded in prison custody on February 10, 2017, pending when he would satisfy the jail terms.

He was unable to meet the bail terms and remained in detention during the trial. 

The charge sheet was subsequently amended twice, with the counts eventually increased to 40 and three other defendants were: Lawal Kareem, Olalekan Yusuf and Muyideen Shoyombo, making the defendants five.

The five Defendants entered pleas of not guilty to the first and second counts while Egbegbe, pleaded not guilty to the remaining thirty-eight counts.