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Nigerian athletes bag jail terms in US

A District Court in the US city of Hattiesburg has found two collegiate athletes from Nigeria, Emmanuel Ineh, 23, and Toluwani Adebakin, 25, guilty of transferring thousands of dollars back home as part of a complex fraud scheme.

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and prosecuted by Assistant US Attorney, Andrew W Eichner.

According to court documents, Mr Ineh and Mr Adebakin pleaded guilty to violations of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1957, for engaging in monetary transactions in property derived from specified unlawful activities, collectively sending tens of thousands of illicitly obtained proceeds to fraudsters in Nigeria as part of a larger mail fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering conspiracy.

The scheme involved track-and-field athletes from multiple higher learning institutions in the United States, with part of the conspiracy being operated out of Hattiesburg, while Mr Ineh and Mr Adebakin were track-and-field teammates at William Carey University. William Carey University was reportedly cooperative throughout the investigation.

Media reports say both defendants are scheduled to be sentenced on February 15, 2023, in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, and face a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.

A federal district judge will determine any sentence after considering the US Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Writing by Fany Olumoye; Editing by Tony Okerafor