An American citizen Marco Ramirez was, on Thursday June 22, remanded at Kirikiri Maximum Prison on the orders of an Ikeja High Court for allegedly defrauding three Nigerians in a $565,000 green card and investment scam.
According to reports, following his not-guilty plea to a 16-count charge of obtaining money under false pretenses, the suspect was arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). The prosecutor for the commission, O. Aigboje, alleged that the offences were committed between February 2013 and August 2013 by Ramirez, who is the managing director of three companies - USA Now Plc, Eagleford Instalodge Group and USA Now Capital Group. l
According to the EFCC prosecutor, $545,000 was fraudulently received by the accused from Godson Echejue, to invest in his company, Eagleford Instalodge Group, in order to procure an American green card (residence permit) for him (Echejue). Ramirez also allegedly received the sum of $10,000 from Abubakar Umar through a non-existent investment programme in the US, which was supposed to make Umar eligible to obtain an American passport.
The prosecutor further accused the suspect of illegally receiving 10,000 dollars from one Olukayode Sodimu under the pretext that the funds were facilitation fees with the American immigration services for an American green card. The EFCC prosecutor thus requested that the accused be remanded in prison, after he had entered his plea.
She stated: “There are no bed spaces available in the commission. I apply that the defendant be remanded in prison custody.” However, the counsel for the defense Chukwudi Maduka, requested that his client be kept in the custody of EFCC and not in the custody of the Nigerian Prison Service.
Maduka stated: “Ever since my client has been in the custody of the EFCC, we are just seeing this charge for the very first time today. “He is already on EFCC bail in Abuja and his International passport has been forfeited as part of his bail conditions. We will like to file an application for his bail today. “We pray that the defendant be remanded in the custody of the EFCC pending the time my Lord hears the bail application.”
His request was however rejected by the judge Josephine Oyefeso, who ordered that Ramirez be remanded in prison. In her ruling, Justice Oyefeso stated: “The proper place for remand is prison custody and I so order. “The case is, hereby, adjourned to July 3 for hearing of the defendant’s bail application.”