American-based Nigerian sentenced in US demands fair hearing, retrial

Mr. Olufolajimi Abegunde, a Nigerian living in the United States has sent a “save my soul”, message to good-spirited Nigerians, human right activists and lawyers over what he called unfair “treatment” meted out to him by the United States (US) Sixth Circuit Court of Appeal.

The American-based Nigerian who resides in Atlanta, the United States was sentenced to 78 months over alleged cybercrime in the US correctional facility, but he denied the offence.

In a statement sent to BBNAIJA ONLINE” in Abuja by his lawyer, Abejide described as travesty of justice, his sentence by a judge in the western district of Tennessee, Sheryl Lipman in 2019.

The 32-year-old Nigerian in the judgement which he wanted for human rights activist’s intervention also ordered him to pay $57,911.62 in restitution to the victims of his alleged offence.

The convicted Nigerian, according to the statement, has an MBA from Texas A&M University in College Station.

He expressed optimism that the United States judiciary has a traditional system of adhering strictly to the rule of law, while asking eminent lawyers, human Rights activists to come to his rescue.

In the judgement, Abegunde pointed

out the element of travesties by both District Court and Sixth Circuit Court of Appeal to be ranging 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.”

One of his lawyers who is based in Abuja, but pleaded anonymity said 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 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”, he said.