A 34-year old herbalist, Mathew Sonoma has been sentenced to seven years imprisonment with hard labour for defrauding a former chairman of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Ambassador Sam Edem of N715 million.
The Warri based herbalist who will serve the jail term at Kuje prison in Abuja was convicted by a Federal High Court in Abuja for contravening Section 7 (2B) of the Advance Fee Fraud and other related offences Act 2006 otherwise known as 419.
The herbalist was jailed by Justice Gabriel Kolawole on conviction of duping the diplomat N715 million and concealing the amount in a secret account he opened with the false name of Tunwere Mathew Ejoor at a commercial bank.
Giving judgment in the 15-count charge against the convict, Justice Kolawole dismissed the claim of the herbalist that the N715m was a payment for undisclosed services he rendered to his defendant.
In his 66 page judgment, Justice Kolawole described the action of the convict as barbaric, adding that the evidence against him was overwhelming, as he wanted to conceal the money by opening a secret account and transferring the money during police investigation.
The judge also held that the claim of the convict that the money was payment for services he rendered to Edem cannot hold water because of his failure to disclose the nature of the services when called upon to do so.
Justice Kolawole stated that from the bank documents and evidence of the bank manager, the prosecution has proved beyond doubt that the convict had fraudulent intention in transferring the said money to another account under false name pending police investigation.
He agreed with the prosecution counsel, Mr. Simon Lough that the jailed herbalist got the money from his victim with fraudulent intention since he failed to disclosed the services he rendered to the diplomat that warranted the payment of the huge sum.
Ambassador Edem had petitioned the Inspector General of Police, claiming that he paid the N715 million to the bank account of the herbalist as a loan to the herbalist to enable him execute a business deal.