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Nigerian Sentenced In America Demands Fair Hearing, Fresh Trial

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By Our Correspondent

An American-based Nigerian citizen, Mr. Olufolajimi Abegunde, has demanded from American citizens, human right activists and lawyers in Nigeria and the world at large to rescue him from the “unfair treatment” meted out to him by the United States (US), Sixth Circuit Court of Appeal.

It would be recalled that Abegunde, a Nigerian residing in Atlanta, US, was sentenced to 78 months in the correctional centre after he was convicted of alleged cyber fraud in the US – the offence he vehemently denied.

He was sentenced by a judge in the western district of Tennessee, Sheryl Lipman in 2019 and the judge also ordered he paid $57,911.62 in restitution to the victims of his offence.

But the 32-year-old Nigerian citizen who has an MBA from Texas A&M University in College Station, in a Save Our Soul (SOS) appeal sent to journalists in Abuja, said he was unfairly treated and has suffered travesties of justice.

He, however, expressed confidence in the US Justice System given its traditional strict adherence to the rule of law and due process, saying he would definitely get justice if well-Nigerians, human right activists and lawyers across the world could wade into the matter.

While rejecting the verdicts passed on him by both the District Court and Sixth Circuit Court of Appeal as travesties of justice, Abegunde said, “These travesties range from the worst and most egregious forms of abuse of power or privilege by judicial officers.

“These abuses also involved egregious forms of overreach by government officials and the most draconian forms of prosecutorial misconduct, to significant and preposterous actions at both the District and Sixth Circuit Court of Appeal.”

Reacting to the sentence, one of his lawyers who doesn’t want his name in print explained that due to lack of sufficient evidence to prosecute him for these offences, the prosecutors brought a superseding indictment on marriage fraud conspiracy, an offense not connected to the original charges for which he was indicted and prosecuted on.

The lawyer noted that this is against due process and deprived Abegunde his right to a fair trial.

He said, according to rule 8 of the federal rules of criminal procedure as well as Sixth Circuit precedent, offenses can only be joined if they are of the same or similar character, where there is a logical relationship between the offences and if there is overlapping evidence with regard to the joined offenses.

“United States courts have also ruled severally, that for the joining of offences to be proper, the offences must have occurred in the same location.

“The superseding indictment clearly states that the marriage was entered into in North Carolina, also there is no logical relationship or overlapping evidence regarding the joined offences. It was a universal rule which courts anywhere in the world must comply with,” he stated.

He added, “These extant rules, however in the case of Abegunde were observed more in breach than in conformity by both the District and Appeal Court that tried Abegunde.

“The marriage affairs in which he was engaged with his spouse at the Eastern District of North Carolina replaced the aggravated identity theft charge, for which there was absolutely no evidence.”

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