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US Court declines lawyers’ application to abandon Hushpuppi’s case

US criminal law attorneys, Louis Shapiro, Michael Khouri and John Iweanoge requested to stop representing convicted internet fraudster Ramon Abbas Igbalode aka “Hushpuppi”, but it was denied.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit rejected their application, according to an order filed in the Central District of California, Los Angeles on January 19.

“The motion to withdraw (Docket Entry No. 2) is denied without prejudice,” it read in part.

Peoples Gazette reports the court asserted that the move to end Hushpuppi’s legal representation did not comply with due process.

The document said their application was denied because it “does not include a completed financial affidavit to support appointment of new counsel” and because it did not specifically mention that a new attorney had been hired.

For their motions to be reconsidered, the appeal court gave the attorneys 35 days to provide a “substitution of retained counsel or assist appellant in completing a financial affidavit.”

Failure to comply with the order means the three lawyers would have to keep representing the convicted fraudster who has appealed for his 140-month sentence to be overturned.

It may be recalled that in November last year, Mr Abbas filed a notice to appeal the 11-year sentence handed down to him for internet fraud and money laundering.

In related news, a Dei-Dei Grade I Area Court in the Federal Capital Territory recently sentenced a 25-year-old farmer to 12 months imprisonment over theft of church properties.

The convict, Salisu Sule was accused of invading the Fire and Miracle Ministry in Ruryi Zuba to steal glass pulpit and wheelbarrow.

He pleaded guilty to two counts of criminal trespass and theft and begged the court for leniency.

The prosecutor, Chinedu Ogada told the court that the complainant Emeka Ucheara of Dangerou Fire and Miracle Ministry Ruryi Zuba, Abuja, reported the matter at Zuba Police Station on January 4, 2023.

He further narrated how the accused trespassed into the complainant’s Church at Zuba through the fence without his consent at about 11pm on that same day.

Ogada said that the convict stole the church glass pulpit valued at N100,000 and a wheel barrow.

He said Sule was in the process of carrying the stolen items outside when he broke the church glass pulpit but was caught in the act.

The church then handed the suspect over to the police for investigation.

Delivering judgment, Saminu Suleiman, handed down 12 month sentence but gave the convict an option of N40,000 fine.

Suleiman also ordered Sule to pay N140,000 as compensation to the complainant and warned him to desist from committing crime.

The prosecution counsel said that during police investigation, the convict made a confessional statement but could not give a satisfactory account of his actions.

He said the iron rod was recovered from the convict and the offence contravenes the provisions of sections 348 and 288 of the Penal Code.