Hon. Justice Kudirat Jose of a Lagos High Court, sitting in Ikeja, has sentenced one Sylvester Sunday Aghaonu to one year imprisonment and 6-months community service for visa-related fraud.
Mr. Aghaonu was first arraigned on a 5-count charge by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), on offences that bordered on forgery and submission of forged documents to the Indian High Commission with the intent to mislead the Commision into issuing him a visa. The offence contravenes Sections 13, 17(1)(c) and 26(1)(a) of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000 and is punishable under section 13 of the same Act.
The prosecution counsel, Messrs O.G. Iwuagwu and Oludiya Atanda, had averred that the defendant falsely submitted fake documents to the Indian High Commission with the intent of misleading the said Commission to issue him a visa.
Some of the evidence made available before the court included a United Bank of Africa statement of account in favor of Daramic Investment Nigeria Limited; Certificate of Incorporation of the said company that acknowledged Aghaonu as its employee and a letter of invitation by one Acme Machinery India PVT. Ltd.
After presenting their argument, the prosecuting counsel prayed the court to make the accused face the wrath of the law to serve as a deterrent to others.
Hon. Justice Jose being convinced of the prosecution’s submission, convicted the accused and sentenced him to one year imprisonment with an option of N50,000 fine and 6 months community service on Counts 1 and 2. On count 5, Aghaonu was also slammed with another one year jail term with the option of N10,000 fine and 6 months community service. The sentences run concurrently.
It should be noted that in the effort to rid Nigeria of visa-acquisition fraud, ICPC has in recent times charged several persons to court and secured convictions.