Currency Trafficking: American Bags 26 Years Jail Term


San Francisco, May 19, (THEWILL) - A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos on Wednesday May 19 handed a 26 year jail term to an American, Sharon Denis Thorpe for attempting to smuggle counterfeited American Bank cheques through the Murtala Muhammed Airport, in Lagos.

The American was arraigned before Justice Akinjide Ajakaiye, alongside her Nigerian Boyfriend and accomplice, Kehinde Musediku by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC on a 13 -count charge bordering on forgery and currency trafficking.

One of the counts reads as follows, "That you Sharon Denis Thorpe and Musediku Kehinde on the 20th day of February 2010 in the Lagos division of the Federal High Court conspired to commit an offence to wit; forgery and thereby committed an offence contrary to section 19(3) (6) and punishable under section (2) (a) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act CAP M17, Vol.9, laws of the Federation of Nigeria."

Sharon pleaded guilty to the charge and was convicted accordingly. But her accomplice pleaded not guilty and was ordered remanded in prison custody.

Before a sentence was passed on the American, her counsel, Miss Juliet Obodoechi, in her allocutus, urged the court to temper justice with mercy on the ground that the convict was a first offender, repentant and a victim of circumstance. She pointed out that the convict did not waste the time of the court and that she was truthful.

The trial Judge while passing the sentence noted that each of the counts carries a maximum of 21 years imprisonment, but because the convict was extremely pertinent and remorseful, she was sentenced to two years imprisonment with hard labour in each of the 13 counts. The sentence is however to run concurrently from the day she was arrested.

Justice Ajaikaiye then adjourned proceedings to June 14, when the bail application for the second accused would be heard.

Sharon Denis Thorpe and Musediku were arrested at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport on February 20. Sharon was arrested with $760,668.04 counterfeit American bank cheques, as she was about to board a Qatar Airline flight to the United States of America.

The couple was first arraigned before Justice Akinjide Ajakaiye of the Federal High Court, Lagos on Friday, March 26 but could not take their plea.

The foreign Bank instruments, which they forged, include 42 pieces of Barner Bank cheques, 48 pieces of Citizens Bank cheques, 17 pieces of Fifth Third Bank cheques, 24 pieces of M&T Bank cheques, 26 pieces of AmSouth Bank cheques and 15 pieces of Timber wood cheques.

Sharon was returning to her base in North Carolina, United State on February 20, having arrived the country since November 2009 to visit her fiancé, Kehinde, when she was caught with the counterfeit instruments at the check-in-counter of the Murtala Mohammed International Airport. She claims the parcel was given to her by one Femi Atoms, who is a friend to her fiancé for delivery to another friend in the USA.

Her fiancé, Kehinde, 25, a native of Ijebu Ode, Ogun State, was deported from the United States in 2006 after he and his elder brother, Lukman were convicted by Wake Sheriff Department Court, Raleigh, for obtaining property by false pretences and financial identity theft.