The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Tuesday rejected the bail application of a Nigerian man accused of running an advance-fee fraud.
Justice Noorul Haq Qureshi rejected the bail application filed on March 29 by Christopher Ofroa alias Mark William, who is currently in Adiala Jail in connection with a Rs2.64 million fraud case initiated via the social networking website Facebook.
Complainant Mukhtar Ahmed Baloch, a resident of Chaghi district in Balochistan, claimed he was defrauded of Rs2.64 million when he responded to an offer to receive $7.6 million posted on his Facebook wall by an online contact.
In his application, he maintained that he had received a wall post last September from the contact, Edward Jackson, stating that Engineer Palijo Ishaq Baloch had died in an accident and that he had $7.64 million (Rs695 million) which are lying in Togoliese De Bank, West Africa.
He maintained that the wall post further said that the deceased person had deposited the money with a declaration that an ethnic Baloch be given the said money to use for the welfare of Baloch people in case of his death.
According to the FIR, after depriving the complainant of Rs2.64 million at different stages, Ofroa called Baloch on his cell phone and demanded US$25,000 (Rs2.27 million) as processing fees for the delivery of the trunk box consignment.
Finally, suspicious that he was being defrauded, he went to the Federal Investigation Agency, which then registered a fraud case against Ofroa on February 22, 2012, under the Electronic Transactions Ordinance and the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) and arrested him from Islamabad.
Last week, the court had reserved the case and announced on April 24 that, “When the document [Ofroa’s visa] by itself is not proved to be genuine, his entry in Pakistan comes under the shadow of doubt. Hence, the prosecution’s case is fully attracted with the ambits of section-14 of the Foreigners Act, which is punishable for 10 years as well as come within boring clause for grant of bail”.
The court also gave the grounds that the petitioner was a repeat offender in fraud cases, citing the Supreme Court decision in Tariq Bashir and Others vs The State, where the court observed that such offences are punishable with imprisonment for less than 10 years.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 25th, 2012.