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05.09.2005 Crime & Punishment

Eight Nigerians remanded for forging official documents


Accra, Sept. 5, GNA - Eight Nigerians who were arrested for forging official documents from the Office of the President, the Judicial Service and some ministries on Monday appeared at a circuit court in Accra for forgery.

Ibrahim Mato, alias Edward Mensah, Benson Nnadi, Budy Sampson, Raymond Popson, Ashanor Wright Waheed, Adetan Oluwafemi Adenyi, Abolade Oluwaseyi Toyosi and Ekpemadu Chukwudi Andy were alleged to have succeeded in collecting 35,000 Euros from a French national. Charged with 36 counts of conspiracy, forgery of documents and possession of forged documents, they pleaded not guilty. The court, however, remanded them into prison to reappear on September 19.

This followed a submission made by the prosecution that with the nature of the offence and the documents, they needed ample time to complete police investigations.

Some of the documents incepted by the police include letterheads of Ministries of Defence and the Interior, Finance and Economic Planning, Auditor-General and Attorney-General. The rest are Customs, Excise and Preventive Service, the Police Service and leading banks.

Three other accomplices Victor Okechukwu, Okoye Ibueze, Michael Owusu and Alexander Dankwa are on the run. The prosecution told the court it had intercepted an e-mail from Ibueze, leader of the group, accusing his colleagues of messing up in the deal.

The case of prosecuting Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) George Abavelim, Ibueze, now at large, is a leader of an advanced fee fraud known as "419" while the rest are members of the syndicate. The prosecution said the syndicate had an Internet Caf=E9 at Achimota and a computer workshop at Alogboshie, near Achimota, where they also stay.

ASP Abavelim said the syndicate for some time, had been using their caf=E9 to prepare forged official documents to convince their victims that huge sums of money had been deposited at the banks in their names. To access those monies, some taxes in dollars ought to be paid in dollars and Euros.

Through that, Ibueze managed to convince a French national that he had 8.5 million dollars bequeathed to him at the SG-SSB Bank Kokomlemle Branch but would have to pay 185,000 Euros so that the money would be released to him.

The accused persons through correspondence invited the French national to Ghana and on May 25, this year, they collected 35,000 Euros from him as part payment.

Mato, who claimed to be the Managing Director of Ghana International Commercial Bank while Owusu and Dankwa who also acted as solicitors issued the French national with a receipt and he (the French national) returned to Germany. The prosecution said the French national informed a Ghanaian friend about the transaction and the Ghanaian told him that he had been defrauded.

On August 16, the French national returned to Ghana and was picked up by Ibueze, Mato, Nnadi, Sampson and Owusu at the Airport. The Police, who had been informed earlier, trailed the accused persons to a house at Achimota. A search at the house led to the discovery of assorted forged official documents, computers and accessories, stationery and files bearing different names. Seven Ghanaian passports, driving licences, and ECOWAS travelling certificates were also retrieved. The prosecution said they denied knowledge of the offence and refused to sign their charge statements. 5 Sept. 05