A man has been arrested for organising sham weddings in order to obtain UK marriage visas.
The 32-year-old from Wood Farm Road in Oxford was arrested in May of last year at the Abingdon Register Office during the wedding of a Nigerian and a French national. However, he has now been sentenced to a three-year jail term following an investigation by the UK immigration authorities.
Abiola Abdulkareem, the offender in question, was apprehended for his role in arranging the ceremony between Maria Deroff (the French national) and the Nigerian, Idowu James Ojomu. Ojomu had hoped to use the ceremony to obtain a UK marriage visa in order to live and work in Britain. The Nigerian had paid Abdulkareem around £5,000 in the months leaving up to the ceremony to help him achieve this aim.
However, following his arrest the UK Border Agency discovered a number of other probable sham weddings in which Abdulkareem had played a part.
Sam Bullimore, assistant director from the UKBA's criminal and financial investigation team, commented on the situation: "Our main aim is to identify the organisers like Abdulkareem who profit from and fuel the demand for sham marriages and destroy their criminal business. We work very closely with the registrars in Oxfordshire and across the region to identify marriages that may not be genuine, and where we suspect that may be the case we will investigate."
Sham marriages tend to occur between a non-European national and an individual from the European Economic Area with the aim of obtaining long-term residency and the right to claim benefits and paid employment. However, a UK marriage visa is only available to people who are in a genuine relationship, those who are not face prosecution or deportation.a