South African court rules extradition of alleged Nigerian ‘romance scammers’ to the US for trial

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The Cape Town Magistrates Court has ruled that the alleged Nigerian members of the Black Axe syndicate are to be extradited to the U.S.


The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) Regional Communications Manager, Western Cape, Eric Ntabazalila, in a statement on Tuesday, February 20, 2024, said Magistrate Ingrid Arntsen found that there was sufficient evidence to want their prosecution.

The seven accused, all Nigerians – linked to the alleged romance scam are: Perry Osagiede, Enorense Izevbiege, Franklin Edosa Osagiede, Osariemen Eric Clement, Collins Owhofasa Otughwor, Musa Mudashiru and Prince Ibeabuchi Mark.

The eighth accused, Toritseju Gabriel Otubu, won his application to have his extradition enquiry separated from his co-accused.

“Cape Town Magistrates Court has found alleged members of the Black Axe syndicate to be liable for extradition to the United States of America and that there was sufficient evidence to warrant their prosecution,” the statement read.

“Recently the court found the offences for which extradition is sought for alleged members are extraditable. It also found that the certificate that was issued by the United States of America binds the court and there was enough evidence to prosecute them,

“In a ruling this morning, Additional Magistrate I Arntsen, after having considered the evidence presented in the extradition enquiry, found in terms of Section 9(4)(a) read with Section 10(1) and Section 10(2) of the Extradition Act 67 of 1962, that Perry Osagiede, Enorense Izevbiege, Franklin Edosa Osagiede, Osariemen Eric Clement, Collins Owhofasa Otughwor, Musa Mudashiru and Prince Ibeabuchi Mark were liable for extradition to the United State of America and that there was sufficient evidence to warrant their prosecution in the United State of America.

Judgment against Toritseju Gabriel Otubu, who applied for his extradition enquiry to be separated from his co-accused, will be delivered on 12 April 2024. Perry Osagiede, Enorense Izevbiege, Franklin Edosa Osagiede, Osariemen Eric Clement, Collins Owhofasa Otughwor, Musa Mudashiru, Prince Ibeabuchi Mark and Toritseju Gabriel Otubu were arrested and charged with wire fraud conspiracy in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section (s)1349; wire fraud in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section (s) 1343 and 2, money laundering conspiracy in violation of Title, United States Code Section(s) 1956(h) and aggravated identity theft in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section(s) 1028A and 2.

“The State alleges the respondents, working as a collective, would contact potential victims by email or reach out to them on social media, including online dating websites.

“Using false identities and representations, the respondents and their co-perpetrators would convince victims they were in romantic relationships with the online personas they fabricated, which often purport to be engineers and managers working on a project in South Africa. The respondents would then sway their victims to send money directly or to permit others to send money through their financial accounts, to South Africa.

“The case started on 28 January 2022, with all eight respondents appearing under one case number and represented by one set of legal representatives. They raised a point in limine regarding the admissibility and authentication of documents from the United States of America that the State is relying upon for the extradition application.

“After strong arguments by Adv Robin Lewis and Senior State Lenro Badenhorst, the court ruled in favour of the State on 04 March 2022. After this ruling, Otubu applied to have his extradition hearing separated from the other respondents in the matter. That application was granted. He then applied for the court to make a ruling as to how the principle of double criminality is to be applied in this extradition hearing, being in terms of Section 3(2) of the Act and dealing with extradition to the United States of America. The court decided that since the ruling would affect other respondents, they should be allowed to address the court.

“The State has managed to prove its case for extradition of the accused beyond any reasonable doubt. After delivering judgment, the court ordered, in terms of Section 10(1) of the Extradition Act 67 of 1962, that the accused be sent to Pollsmoor Prison to await the decision of the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services regarding their surrender. They may within 15 days appeal the order of the court.

“Western Cape Director of Public Prosecutions, Adv Nicolette Bell, took her hat off to Adv Lewis and Adv Badenhorst for their commitment, under trying conditions at times, to ensure that they take this extradition enquiry to a satisfactory conclusion that will ensure justice for victims of the crimes committed.”

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