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Lagos Court Sentenced Visa Applicant To 3 Years In Jail For Lying About Marital Status

An Ikeja Special Offences Court on Tuesday sentenced a UK visa applicant, Kolawole Viyon, to three years imprisonment for giving false information about his marital status.

The Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) had arraigned Viyon for allegedly lying about his marital status.

Justice Mojisola Dada, who gave the ruling, said the accused person was guilty as charged.

Following a plea bargain entered into with the prosecution, the judge, however, gave Viyon an option of N.3m fine.

“Following the defendant’s guilty plea, he is hereby convicted accordingly. The terms of the plea bargain agreement are hereby adopted as the sentence of this court and the judgment thereof.

“He is hereby sentenced to three years imprisonment or the fine imposed,” the judge said.

The judge, however, noted that if the fine was not paid within 24 hours, “Viyon will have to mandatorily serve his prison term.”

But the convicts’ counsel, Ms Hannah Adeyemi, told the court that he was ready to pay the the fine to effect the court’s judgment.

The Punch reports that ICPC through its counsel, Mr. Gogodoye West, told the court that the defendant and Olaronke Akerele committed the offence on December 13, 2016, at the ICPC Lagos Zonal Office.

West said officials of the British High Commission had in 2016 handed over Viyon and his accomplice, now at large, to the ICPC, for giving false information in their visa application forms.

He told the court that “in his extrajudicial statement volunteered under caution before Mrs. Nkem Ezenwa, an investigating officer with the ICPC, he made a false statement that Olaronke Akerele is his third and legally married wife.

“Viyon informed Ezenwa and Mr. Kenneth Agba, another investigating officer of the ICPC, that the marriage ceremony between him and Akerele was conducted by an Imam under Islamic law.

The defendant said the marriage was evidenced by a certificate with number JUN/LB/0000064 which is dated January 9, 2016 and issued by the Jama-at-ul-Islamiyya of Nigeria.

“Viyon also lied that he had signed the marriage certificate and that the ceremony was conducted at No 108 Tokunboh St., Lagos Island, Lagos,” the prosecutor said.

West, however, told the court that investigation revealed that there was neither marriage contracted between Viyon and Akerele nor a marriage certificate issued by the Jama-at-ul-Islamiyya of Nigeria to that effect.

At the resumed hearing of the case on Tuesday, Viyon pleaded guilty to an amended three counts bordering on knowingly making false statements.

But prior to his plea bargain, the prosecution applied to the court for the withdrawal of the charge against Akerele, who has since absconded.

“The application for withdrawal has become necessary since she has been on the run and we have been unable to apprehend her.”

The offences violated Section (1)(b) and 25 (1), (a) of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act 2000.

Also, two visa applicants, Olusola Alabi and Balogun Teslim, have been sentenced to two years in prison for presenting fake documents to the United States embassy.

The ICPC arraigned the convicts before Justice Mojishola Dada of a Lagos State High Court, accusing them of violating Section 25(1) (a) of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000.

The ICPC said in a statement by its spokesperson, Mrs. Rasheedat Okoduwa, that the convicts procured a false annual leave letter from the United Bank of Africa to mislead the US Consulate, Victoria Island, Lagos, into believing that they were employees of the bank to facilitate the approval of their visa applications.

The commission subsequently arraigned them on three counts bordering on procuring false documents to mislead a constituted authority.

The court was told by the ICPC that the offence committed by the accused persons violated Section 25(1) (a) of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000 and was punishable under the same section.

Counsel for the convicts pleaded with the court to show mercy to them, saying they were first-time offenders and had cooperated fully with the prosecution.

Justice Dada, in her ruling, sentenced them to two years imprisonment each with an option of fine.