A NORTH-EAST security boss masqueraded as a fugitive from the Congo so he could get refugee status in the UK, a court was told.

But Casmir Ekwuhga, 43, said the man pictured in the false documents was not him.

Mr Ekwuhga, was arrested in his home at Hope Gardens, Stockton, last December.

Loading article content

He is charged with knowingly helping Africans get false documents, knowingly employing the illegal immigrants, obtaining a false refugee passport himself, using it to get a driving licence and committing fraud by falsely trying to obtain a British passport. He denies all charges

Nigeria born Mr Ekwugha is believed to have come to the UK in 2000 on a temporary visa. He joined Armour Security in Woolwich, London, a company run by self-styled Nigerian Prince Yilkyse Bala, of Beckenham, Kent, and his wife Faith. Mr Bala, 53, also faces the first two charges and his wife the second. All charges are denied.

Mr Ekwuhga,who runs the Stockton based firm Lion Security, started as a guard with Mr Bala's company and rose through the ranks, ending up as a controller responsible for 170 employees guarding major sites around London.

Simon Farrell, QC, prosecuting at Canterbury Crown Court, said a corrupt Home Office official fed Armour Securities refugee passports.

Mr Ekwuhga surfaced as Casmir Naguenga from the Congo.

Mr Farrell said :"He says it is not him but he has the same first name, the same telephone number and the same sponsor and both men worked for Armour Security.

"He's trusted. He is one of the inner circle. He's directing security guards.They even used the same email address.You can see it's the same man. It's inconceivable that they could be separate identities."

He added: "Not only were people working illegally for Armour Security but they changed their identities while working there.

"The defendants must have known what was happening.These defendants knew this scam was operating and were involved in it."

The case continues.