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Detained Nigerian in US: Govt breaks silence, assures of intervention

Abiola Kolawole

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora, Mrs Abike Dabiri-Erewa has stressed the need for Nigerians, especially those sojourning in the Diaspora, to be mindful of their dealings with people they relate with, including friends and acquaintances, particularly when it comes to financial matters.

Mrs Dabiri-Erewa was speaking against the arrest of a Nigerian Mr Olufolajimi Abegunde who is now in detention for allowing his old friend, Mr Ayodeji Olumide Ojo to make use of his address to open a bank account in a US bank.

Mrs Dabiri-Erewa who made this known in a release signed by his Senior Assistant on Media, Alhajj Abdur-Rahman Balogun and made available to The Osun Daily said even though till date, there was no official correspondence from the family to the effect that their son was arrested, Nigerian government owes it a duty to wade into the matter.

Mr Abegunde, 31, who resides in Atlanta, Georgia and seven others: Javier Luis Ramos Alonso, 28, a Mexican citizen residing in Seaside, California; James Dean, 65, of Plainfield, Indiana; Dana Brady, 61, of Auburn, Washington; Rashid Abdulai, 24, a Ghanaian citizen residing in the Bronx, New York, who has been charged in a separate indictments,Maxwell Atugba Abayeta aka Maxwell Peter, 26, and Babatunde Martins, 62, of Ghana and Benard Emurhowhoariogho Okorhi, 39, a Nigerian citizen who resides in Ghana, were arrested and are pending extradition proceedings to face charges filed in the Western District of Tennessee, economicconfidential reports.

A US  department of Justice has since June 2018 arrested and charged eight   people including Mr Abegunde for cybercrime and business email compromise conspiracy.

Acting Assistant Attorney General, Cronan said, "The defendants allegedly unleashed a barrage of international fraud schemes that targeted U.S. businesses and individuals, robbing them to the tune of approximately $15 million.

"The Department of Justice will continue to work with our international partners to aggressively disrupt and dismantle criminal enterprises that victimize our citizens and businesses."

However, accoding to Dabiri-Erewa, Mr Abegunde claimed innocene, saying that his address was used by a friend of his, Mr Ayodeji Ojo, who has apparently been previously charged with conspiracy to commit fraud and is currently at large.

Abegunde during his Master of Business Administration graduation at Mays Business School, USA

In the account of Abegunde himself as reported by, he recounted that, "Prior to coming to the United States, to school, I had eight Years of professional work experiece, fiunding two startups and managing capital intensuve projects in the leading information technology firm in Nigeria, Computer Warehouse Group. I earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Computer Science Degree in Computer Science from Babcock University, Ogun,  Nigeria, 2006"

Abegunde further explained that, "Even though there was no probable cause for my arrest, there is no single strand of evidence tying me to to these charges on the indictment."

While Mr Abegunde has been in detention since June 2018 for indictment of conspiracy, his friend, Mr Ayodeji Olumide Ojo, who is the suspect, is now, unfortunately, at large.

Mrs Dabiri-Erewa disclosed that when the Nigerian Consulate in Atlanta was aware of the detention of Mr Abegunde, who claimed innocence, a letter was written to the West Tennessee Detention Facility in Mason, Tennessee (where he is detained) requesting consular access.

"The consulate in Atlanta is awaiting response for consular access to Mr Abegunde through the US Department of State in Washington."

The Special Assistant on the Diaspora however believed that Mr Abegunde's pleas that his friend, Mr Ayodeji Olumide Ojo, used his address to open a bank account in a US bank, will hopefully be proven right in court.

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