An American citizen named Marco Ramirez, who allegedly duped three Nigerians in a $565,000 green card and investment scam, was on Thursday, June 22, remanded at the Kirikiri Maximum Prison by an Ikeja High Court.
Ramirez, who was arrested and arraigned before Justice Josephine Oyefeso, by the EFCC, pleaded not guilty to the 16-count charge of obtaining money under false pretences leveled against him.
According to O. Aigboje, the EFCC prosecutor, Ramirez duped the managing director of three companies – USA Now Plc., Eagleford Instalodge Group and USA Now Capital Group between February 2013 and August 2013.
He fraudulently received $545,000 from Godson Echejue to invest in his company, Eagleford Instalodge Group, in order to procure an American green card (residence permit) for him (Echejue). He also allegedly received $10,000 from Abubakar Umar through a non-existent investment programme in the US, which was billed to make Umar eligible to obtain an American passport.
The EFCC also accused Ramirez 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 prosecutor urged the court to remand the defendant in prison pending his trial. But Ramirez’s councel, Chukwudi Maduka urged the court to in EFCC custody and not in prisons, as he was on EFCC administrative bail.
However, the prosecutor said the EFCC facility was overstretched and asked that the defendant be kept in prison. In her ruling, Justice Oyefeso ordered the defendant remanded in prison, noting that “the proper place for remand is prison. I so order”.
The case was adjourned till July 3 for bail application hearing.