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FBI ‘kidnapped’ Hushpuppi from Dubai- Lawyer alleges

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Hushpuppi

A Nigerian man accused of multimillion-dollar fraud and money laundering by the United States was kidnapped by the FBI from Dubai, his lawyer says.

Ramon Olorunwa Abbas – known to his 2.5 million Instagram followers as Ray Hushpuppi – and another cyber-heist suspect Olalekan Jacob Ponle (aka Mr Woodberry) were arrested in Dubai, where they lived, in June.

They then appeared in a Chicago court on 3 July.

The United Arab Emirates has no extradition treaty with the United States but Dubai police said they had been extradited to the US.

Mr Abbas’ lawyer Gal Pissetzky told the BBC that his client, who posts on Instagram about his extravagant lifestyle, was not a criminal and had made his money legitimately.

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“He is a social media influencer with millions of followers, with millions of people that respect and loved him, and he loved them, and that’s what he did. In today’s society, that’s a business,” he said.

Mr Pissetzky admits that he is not “100% familiar” with social media and his children consider him too old but he knows “that’s how people make money today”.

The Chicago defence lawyer’s argument that Hushpuppi was paid by designer brands for promotion has set the stage for what promises to be a long trial in American courts.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) accuses Mr Abbas, 37, of conspiring to launder hundreds of millions of dollars from frauds known as Business Email Compromise (BEC) and other scams.

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It is the latest high-profile fraud case involving a Nigerian national in the United States but his lawyer says the US had no authority to transport him from Dubai.

“In my opinion, the FBI and the government here acted illegally when they kidnapped him from Dubai without any legal process to do so,” Mr Pissetzky told the BBC.

There was no extradition, there were no legal steps taken, there were no court documents filed, it was simply a call to the FBI. He is not a citizen of the United States, the US had absolutely no authority to take him,” his lawyer says.

But the Dubai police said in a Facebook post that the FBI director had thanked them for extraditing the two men.

“You’ll have to ask them about why they called it extradition,” the US Department of Justice (DoJ) spokesman responded in an email.

In a statement about Mr Abbas’ initial court appearance, the DoJ said “FBI special agents earlier this week obtained custody of Abbas and brought him to the United States” without giving any further details.

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Mr. Pissetzky is not convinced.

“If Dubai wanted to expel him, they should have expelled him back to Nigeria. I’ve never heard of anything like that. That is the real story here.”

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Crime

RCCG pastor lands in court for issuing $1.6m dud cheques

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Apostolic church

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFFC) on Wednesday re-arraigned an assistant pastor of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), City of David Parish, Victoria Island, Lagos, Ayodeji Ibrahim Oluokun for allegedly issuing dud cheques of $1.6 million.

Oluokun was arraigned alongside his company Peak Petroleum Industry Nigeria Limited, before Justice Toyin Taiwo of an Ikeja Special offences Court.

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The defendant was re-arraigned on a six-count charge of obtaining money by false pretence, stealing and issuance of dud cheques.

The EFCC Counsel, S.O Daji, told the court that the defendant, in 2014, approached the management of GOSL Nigeria Limited for a loan in the sum of $1.6 million to enable him carry out operational activities in his company’s oil field in Bayelsa State.

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Oluokun was alleged to have assured the firm that he would repay the money within a year.

Unable to repay the loan, the defendant allegedly issued two post-dated Standard Chartered Bank Nigeria Limited cheques for the sum of $1 million and $666,666 respectively, the prosecutor said.

The pastor pleaded not guilty, and Justice Taiwo adjourned the matter till September 23.

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Crime

Man who raped 11-year-old girl sentenced to 25 years imprisonment in Abeokuta

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A 36-year-old man has been sentenced to 25 years in prison for raping an 11-year-old girl.

The man identified as Ugochukwu Obiakor was on Wednesday, August 12, sentenced to 25 years in prison by an Abeokuta high court, for raping an 11-year-old girl.

Presiding the case was Justice Mosunmola Dipeolu who after the man pleaded not guilty to the one-count charge against him, held that the evidence presented before the court by the prosecution was tenable and found the convict guilty as charged.

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Before the sentence, James Mafe, the prosecution counsel and director of legal drafting in Ogun state told the court that the convict committed the offence on September 4, 2017, at Omu-Aleku village in Mowe area of the state.

The convict reportedly came to the victim’s mother’s shop to make a purchase but came back when the mother left the shop.

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Obiakor pretended that the victim’s mother owed him some money and dragged the girl to an uncompleted building beside the shop where he raped her after opening the shop’s iron railings.

Justice Dipeolu consequently sentenced Obiakor to 25 years imprisonment with hard labour.

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Crime

Kano Court sentences man to death by stoning for rape

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An Upper Shari’a Court sitting in Kano on Wednesday, sentenced a 60-year-old man, Mati Abdu, to death by stoning after his conviction for raping a 12-year-old girl.

Abdu was convicted on a count charge of rape contrary to Section 126 of Kano State Shari’a Penal Code Law 2000.

The Trial Judge, Ibrahim Sarki-Yola, said the accused person pleaded guilty to the charge after the case was adjourned for the fourth time without changing his plea.

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Sarki-Yola said the Court was convinced by the accused person’s admission of the charge against him and found him guilty.

The Judge, thereafter, convicted the accused and sentenced him to death by stoning under Section 127 (b) of the Kano State Shari’a Code Law 2000.

Sarki-Yola, however, ordered a 30-days grace within which to appeal the judgment.

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Earlier, the Prosecution Counsel, Ms. Badariya Muhammad, had told the court that the convict committed the offense sometimes in 2019, at Farsa village in Tsanyawa Local Government Area of the State.

Muhammad told the court that the convict at about 1:00 p.m. had unlawful canal knowledge of the 12-year-old girl under a tree situated at Farsa village in Tsanyawa.

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The prosecution argued that the offense contravened Section 126 of Kano State Shari’a Penal Code Law 2000.

In his submission before the Court, Abdu pleaded guilty to the charge in four separate sittings of the Court.

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