A Nigerian man, who says he was wrongly jailed in America, has called on the Nigerian federal government to help him seek redress.
How was he wrongly jailed?
The 35 years old Nigerian, Olufolajimi Abegunde, said he was jailed for an alleged financial crime involving his friend, Ayodeji Ojo, who used his [Abegunde] US address and US mobile phone number to open a bank account in the United States. The account was subsequently used to receive an alleged $9,000 proceeds of fraud.
Why did his friend use his address and phone number?
Abegunde explained that his friend had visited him in the United States in August 2016, and had a legitimate cheque of $26,900 issued to him by Bank of America. However, Ojo couldn’t cash the cheque because of its large figure. He was, instead, advised to open a bank account to enable the cheque to go through the clearing process. But to do as advised, He needed a US address and US mobile phone number, which he didn’t have. Abegunde’s address and phone number were subsequently used, with his permission.
Did his friend use the account for fraud?
No, according to Abegunde, but someone else may have. The $26,900 cheque was cleared, but Abegunde’s ordeal began on March 15, 2017, when two FBI officials visited his home to ask about the subsequent $9,000 paid into the account. By then, the money had been reversed after Abegunde received a call from the bank’s [Wells Fargo] investigator, noting that the $9000 transaction was a fraud. He was subsequently tried and sentenced to 78 months in prison with a fine of $57,911.62 in restitution, despite no evidence that he knowingly received illicit funds.
What does he want from the Nigerian government?
Abegunde said he appealed the ruling, but the Appeal Court didn’t look at the case at all nor consider any of the evidence on the record. He went further to the Supreme Court, but the court also didn’t take the case. He’s now been in jail for 50 months, for a crime he claims to know nothing about, and with all available evidence supporting his innocence. He is now appealing to the Nigerian government, as well as international rights groups, to intervene and help seek redress.