The Civil Defence, Correctional, Fire and Immigration Services Board (CDCFIB) has approved the suspension of three officers and six other ranks of the Nigerian Correctional Service implicated in the alleged internet fraud, suspected to have been perpetrated by Hope Olusegun Aroke, an inmate serving a term of imprisonment in Kirikiri Maximum Security Custodial Centre, Lagos.
According to a statement by Francis Enobore a Controller of Corrections For: Controller-General of Corrections, the suspension is based on the preliminary report of the investigation panel earlier constituted by the Controller General of the Service, Jaáfaru Ahmed, which indicted the officers of complicity in the scandal.
The Controller General who handed down the suspension order, noted that the task of correcting maladjusted persons in the society requires a measure of moral rectitude to make positive impact on offenders in custody.
He restated the irreversible commitment of the authority to ensure that those without adequate strength of character and integrity are not allowed to taint the sanctity of the Nigerian Correctional Service.
Recall that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had over a week ago narrated how Aroke, the convicted fraudster pulled off $1m scam from Kirikiri Prison.
Aroke, who is serving a 24-year jail term, allegedly pulled the heist right from prison using a network of accomplices, some of them targets of fraud and money laundering investigation.
The lid on his latest fraud, according to EFCC spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren, was carried out from the bowels of the Maximum Correctional Centre, and was blown following intelligence received by the commission.
“The immediate riddle that confronted the EFCC was how it was possible for the convict to continue to ply his ignoble trade of Internet fraud from prison.
“Preliminary investigation revealed that that the convict, against established standard practice, had access to internet and mobile phone in the Correctional Centre where he is supposed to be serving his jail term.
“Even more puzzling was the finding that Aroke got himself admitted to the Nigeria Police Hospital, Falomo, Lagos for an undisclosed ailment. And from the hospital, he would move out to lodge in hotels, meet with his wife and two children and attend other social functions.
“The circumstance of his admission into the hospital and those who aided his movement from the hospital to hotels and other social engagements, is already being investigated by the EFCC.
“For a felon supposedly serving a jail term, investigation revealed that the Aroke used a fictitious name, Akinwunmi Sorinmade, to open two accounts with First Bank Plc and Guaranty Trust Bank Plc. He also bought a property at Fountain Spring Estate, Lekki Lagos in 2018 for N22million and a Lexus RX 350 2018 model registered in his wife’s name, Maria Jennifer Aroke.
“The convict was also in possession of his wife’s bank account token in prison, which he used to freely transfer funds.
“Further investigation revealed that, while his trial was ongoing in 2015, Aroke bought a four bedroom duplex at Plot 12, Deji Fadoju Street, Megamounds Estate Lekki County Homes , Lekki for N48million.
“Aroke was one of two Malaysia-based Nigerian undergraduate fraudsters arrested by the EFCC in the closing weeks of 2012 at the 1004 Housing Estate, Victoria Island, Lagos following a tip- off. The indigene of Okene, Kogi State had claimed to be a student of Computer Science at the Kuala Lumpur Metropolitan University, Malaysia. But the Commission’s investigation fingered him as the arrow head of an intricate web of internet fraud scheme that traverse two continents.
“When Aroke was arrested, a search conducted by EFCC operatives on his apartment led to the recovery of several items such as laptops, iPad, traveling documents, cheque books, flash drives, internet modem, and three exotic cars – a Mercedes Benz Jeep, One 4Matic Mercedes Benz Car and a Range Rover Sport SUV.
“He was eventually convicted by Justice Lateefa Okunnu of a Lagos State High Court on two counts of obtaining money by false pretence, cheque cloning, wire transfer and forgery. He was sentenced to twelve years imprisonment on each of the two counts,” the statement added.
The Commission has arrested the Deputy Controller of Kirikiri maximum correctional centre, Emmanuel Oluwaniyi and Hemeson Edwin, also a DC, for allegedly procuring an exaggerated medical report for Aroke.
The EFCC spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren in a statement in Abuja on Tuesday explained that Oluwaniyi and his accomplice, Edwin, who was in charge of the clinic in the correctional centre, were arrested on Monday by operatives of the commission.
The suspects were said to have given useful information about their alleged involvement in the crime.