North-East security boss jailed for four years over immigration scam

North-East security boss jailed for four years over immigration scam

JAIL TERM: Casmir Ekwuhga has been jailed for four years

JAIL TERM: Casmir Ekwuhga has been jailed for four years

JAIL TERM: Yilkyes Bala

JAIL TERM: Casmir Ekwuhga has been jailed for four years

JAILED: Giwo Faith Bala-Tonglele

First published in News Darlington and Stockton Times: Photograph of the Author by , Assistant News Editor

A SECURITY boss at the heart of a major immigration scam collapsed in the dock after he was jailed for four years.

Nigerian born Casmir Ekwuhga, 43, of Hope Gardens, Stockton was found guilty of being part of a conspiracy to provide illegal immigrants with fresh identities, using a refugee passport illegally and using it to get a driving licence.

At the time he worked for self styled Nigerian prince Dr Yilkyes Bala, 55, of Beckenham, Kent at a security company in Woolwich, London.

Ekwuhga was arrested when he tried to get a British passport without declaring his other identity as a refugee from the Congo.

The documents were obtained from a corrupt Home Office official who passed them to Bala. In turn he passed one of the passports to Ekwuhga.

When confronted by immigration officers Ekwuhga denied the man on the passport photograph was him.

During the six week trial at Canterbury Crown Court prosecutors said he knew of the 96 documents issued to staff at Armour Security and helped in providing new identities to workers at the company.

Sentencing him Judge Heather Norton said: "You were a vital part of the conspiracy. The documents gave you an advantage over other people."

Ekwuhga was led away in tears by prison officers and will be deported at the end of his sentence.

Bala had denied three counts of conspiracy to facilitate the breach of immigration law. He was sentenced to seven years.

His wife, Nigerian Giwo Faith Bala-Tonglele, 46, of Lakeside Avenue, Thamesmead, had pleaded not guilty to two counts of conspiracy to facilitate the breach of immigration law. She was jailed for five years.

Bala's security company employed Nigerian and Ghanaian people who were given false identities to stay in the country.

Specialist Home Office immigration enforcement investigators recovered 150,000 pages of documentary evidence when Bala and his wife were arrested at their home in Woolwich in June 2011.

Canterbury Crown Court heard the investigation, which was assisted by National Crime Agency officers, followed the conviction of Mofeyishola John-Ayo, a former Home Office employee jailed for nine years in 2008 for issuing more than 200 fraudulent Convention Travel Documents.

David Fairclough, from the Home Office’s Immigration Enforcement Criminal Investigations team, said: “This has been a long, complex and painstaking investigation but the dedication of our officers has paid dividends as this gang have been given prison sentences.

“It should serve as a warning to anyone thinking of abusing our immigration rules. We will relentlessly pursue you and you will end up in jail."

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