Ikeja – The absence of defense counsel on Tuesday at an Ikeja High Court stalled the trial of Marco Ramirez, an American, who allegedly defrauded three Nigerians of 565,000 dollars in an American Green Card scam.
On June 22, 2017, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), had slammed a 16-count charge bordering on obtaining money under false pretenses.
He had pleaded not guilty to the charges and Justice Josephine Oyefeso granted him 250,000 dollars bail with two sureties in like sum on July 10, 2017. At the resumed proceedings of the case on Tuesday, Ramirez, who has fulfilled his bail conditions, informed the court that he had no legal representation.
“I have no legal representation; this morning, My Lord, I have been unable to reach my lawyer,” he said.
Responding, Mrs. V.O. Agboje, the prosecuting counsel for the EFCC, asked the court for a new trial date.
“The defense counsel were present in court at the last adjourned date. “I urge the court to take a new trial date,” Agboje said.
Acceding to the request of the EFCC, Justice Oyefeso adjourned the case until June 26 for parties to pick a trial date. The United States had convicted Ramirez in absentia of fraud related offenses. He was alleged to be the Managing Director of three companies — USA Now Plc., Eagleford Instalodge Group and USA Now Capital Group.
According to the EFCC, he committed the offenses between February and August 2013. The American was alleged to have fraudulently received 545,000 dollars from Amb. Godson Echejue, to invest in Ramirez’s company.
The plan was to procure an American Green Card (permanent residency permit) for the Nigerian. Ramirez allegedly received 10,000 dollars from one Abubakar Umar through a non-existent investment programme in the U.S. which would make Umar eligible to obtain an American passport.
The EFCC is also accusing Ramirez of illegally receiving 10,000 dollars from Olukayode Sodimu, on the pretext that the funds were facilitation fees charged by the American Immigration Services for an American Green Card.