Green card scam: Court rejects American bail

Marco Ramirez EFCC

The Ikeja High Court has rejected an application to vary the bail conditions brought by Marco Ramirez, an American, accused of defrauding three Nigerians of $565,000 (N204.2 million) in a green card scam.

In his ruling on Monday, Justice Hakeem Oshodi, the vacation judge said: “There is nothing before this court to support the claims of the defendant.

“The application is dismissed and I order that the file should be returned to the registry.”

Ramirez had approached the court through his counsel, Ademola Adefolaju, to vary the bail conditions granted him on July 10 by Justice Josephine Oyefeso.

The applicant has been reminded in Kirikiri Prisons for over two months.

“Remirez is unable to meet up with various bail conditions set out for him by the court which included providing an executive director of a company as a surety.

“At the moment, the applicant is ill and it is our sincere prayer for the court to vary his bail conditions so that he could fulfill them.

“My Lord, we have approached the court with the application for the applicant’s bail conditions to be varied in the interest of justice,’’ Adefolaju told the court.

On his part, M.F. Owede, the Counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), while opposing Adefolaju’s application, told the court that “Ramirez is an international fugitive.”

“The defendant is a fugitive in the U.S.A. and he is already flagged by the Interpol, despite the court was magnanimous to have granted bail him bail on liberal terms.

“The court, by those conditions, did not ask for too much from the applicant. My Lord, I pray the court to dismiss this application and stick to the earlier bail conditions,” Owede said.

Justice Oshodi, however, noted that the application could not be heard because Ramirez was not present in court.

He said he could not just overrule Justice Oyefeso, the judge handling the case, adding that the application was incompetent.

He said there was nothing before the court to prove Ramirez’s alleged ill-health.

The EFCC had slammed a 16-count charge bordering on obtaining under false pretences on Ramirez.

According to the anti-graft agency, Ramirez, the Managing Director of three companies — USA Now Plc., Eagleford Instalodge Group and USA Now Capital Group — allegedly committed the offences between February 2013 and August 2013. EFCC alleged that Ramirez fraudulently received 545,000 dollars from Godson Echejue to invest in his company — Eagleford Instalodge Group — in order to procure an American green card (residency permit) for him (Echejue).

He also allegedly received 10,000 dollars from Abubakar Umar through a non-existent investment programme in the U.S. which was billed to make Umar eligible to obtain an American passport.

The EFCC also accused Ramirez of illegally receiving yet another 10,000 dollars from Olukayode Sodimu on the pretext that the funds were facilitation fees with the American Immigration Services for an American green card.

Justice Oyesfeso had on July 10 admitted Ramirez to 250,000 dollar bail or its Naira equivalent with two sureties in like sum.

Oyefeso had ordered that one of the sureties should be resident in Lagos and a director of a reputable company with landed property in the state.