Dismissal of fraud complaint against ‘Woodberry;’ End of the road or fight for another day?

From personal experiences and stories that circulate in the media, the justice system in Nigeria is largely seen as abysmal and majority of citizens hold the opinion that justice in Nigeria goes to the highest bidder.

We continually spectate as a number of affluent individuals escape the long arm of justice, and at this point, people just can’t help but dismiss the system as corrupt.

In light of this, Nigerians have stayed glued to the screens and devices following updates around the prosecution of social media celebrities; Raymond Igbalode Abbas best known as Hushpuppi, as well as Olalekan Jacob Ponle, popularly known as Woodberry, who were arrested in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, in June, alongside 10 others in an operation tagged ‘Fox Hunt’ after they were accused of “committing crimes outside the UAE, including money-laundering, cyber fraud, hacking, criminal impersonating, scamming individuals, banking fraud and identity theft.” They were later extradited to the United States on July 2.

For many, having been nabbed after a solid investigation by a law enforcement agency, largely touted as irreproachable, their time was finally up and nothing could stop them from going to jail. In fact, in the lips of many, the debate was the duration of time they would be spending in prison. This has however, turned out not to be the case for Woodberry, as Judge Robert W. Gettleman of a United States District Court sitting in Illinois, dismissed his case on Tuesday.

The United States Government had on Monday, filed a motion for the dismissal of Woodberry’s complaint without prejudice, through its attorney John R. Lausch, which the court has now granted.

“Without objection the complaint against defendant Ponle is dismissed without prejudice. Motion presentment hearing set for 7/23/2020 is stricken,” Mr Gettleman ruled.

Mixed reactions have greeted the development and some Nigerians are of the opinion that he may have cooperated with the government and in return negotiated his release in exchange for an out of court settlement. Legal opinions suggest that fresh facts may have emerged that requires the State to withdraw and refile charges levied against him.

Others believe that the justice system in America is every bit as corrupt as ours.

There are also concerns that the latest development may after all, be a victory for cyber crime.


In spite of the reactions, what is clear from the developments, especially from a Premium Times report on the case is that when a case is dismissed “without prejudice,” as in the case of Woodberry, such dismissal is temporary and can be revisited, compared to a plain dismissal that means it is over, done with and cannot be brought back to court.

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