An Ikeja high court on Thursday remanded an American citizen, Marco Ramirez, at Kirikiri Maximum Prison for allegedly defrauding three Nigerians in a $565,000 green card and investment scam.
Ramirez was remanded following his not-guilty plea to a 16-count charge of obtaining money under false pretences.
He was arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
O. Aigboje, the EFCC prosecutor, alleged that the accused, managing director of three companies – USA Now Plc., Eagleford Instalodge Group and USA Now Capital Group – committed the offences between February 2013 and August 2013.
Aigboje said Ramirez 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.
After Ramirez took his plea, Aigboje requested that he be taken from the custody of EFCC to prison custody.
“There are no bed spaces available in the commission. I apply that the defendant be remanded in prison custody,” she said.
Chukwudi Maduka, the defence counsel, in his submission, requested that Ramirez be kept in the custody of EFCC and not in the custody of the Nigerian Prison Service.
“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 said. “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.”
Josephine Oyefeso, the judge, however, rejected Maduka’s request and ordered that Ramirez be remanded in prison. “The proper place for remand is prison custody and I so order,” she held.
“The case is, hereby, adjourned to July 3 for hearing of the defendant’s bail application.”