Eighteen months after her arraignment with two others for conspiring to swindle a Brazilian bank in the biggest ever Advance Fee Fraud offences, 37 year-old widow, Mrs Amaka Martina Anajemba was yesterday convicted after pleading guilty to the charges preferred against her by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). She will spend two years behind bar and forfeit all properties acquired through the fraudulent means.
Anajemba who in January last year pleaded not guilty alongside a former director of the Union Bank Plc, Chief Emmanuel Nwude and Chief Nzeribe Edeh Okoli for swindling the said bank to the tune of $242 million, yesterday made a detour and pleaded guilty to the four count charge against her. They were arraigned for stealing and conspiracy contrary to Sections 8(a) and 1 (b) of the Advance Fee Fraud and other Related Offences Act 13 of 1995 as amended by Act 62 of 1999.
The trial judge, Justice Joseph Oyewole of the Ikeja High Court, Lagos, sentenced her to two and half years imprisonment and to forfeit properties worth N3.185 billion in Nigeria and those abroad, worth $25.649.312 m including companies assets and cash.
The 20 properties which are located in choice areas in Nigeria, such as Abuja, Lagos, Port Harcourt and Enugu valued at N3.185 billion are to be forfeited, including accounts and 15 properties in U.S.A. England and Switzerland worth 25,649.312 million dollars which are to be forfeited as restitution for her victims.
Justice Joseph Oyewole in his judgement also held that Anajemba will forfeit "the sum of 5 million US dollars to the Federal Government and shall pay a fine of N1 million."
Before his judgement, the accused person who pleaded guilty to the four count charge told the court through his counsel, Chief Chris Uche (SAN) that she was not aware of the matter when her late husband was alive until she was quizzed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over the case.
Anajemba in her allocutus (plea for leniency) told the court, that she was not the principal offender, hence her inability to disclose her husband's finances and that she is ready to give up all the properties to save her name and reputation and to take care of her children left behind by her late husband.
She pleaded with the court to temper justice with mercy since she has been in custody for long and had cooperated with the court and the prosecution since the beginning of the trial.
Earlier before the judgement, the new charge after the amendment of the one relating to Anajemba was read to the accused persons, including chiefs Emmanuel Nwude and Nzeribe Okoli but the duo of Nwude and Okoli still pleaded not guilty to the new charge.
In his Judgement, Justice Oyewole held that : "Having listened to the 2nd accused representing herself and the 4th accused (her company, Finbaz, Nig, Ltd.) and having listened to the submissions of Chief Uche (SAN) their counsel and having also considered the facts as represented by Mr. Jacobs for the prosecution, I am satisfied that the 2nd and 4th accused persons do intend to plead guilty to the charges against them as contained in the amended information, and accordingly I hereby pronounce as follows :
"The 2nd accused is found guilty on count 89 and she is hereby convicted accordingly.
"The 4th accused is found guilty on count 88, 90 and 91 respectively and she is hereby convicted accordingly."