Court Convicts Former Bank MD, Three Others Over ₦18bn Theft

Logo of a court gavel

 

The Lagos High Court sitting in Ikeja has convicted a former Managing Director of Finbank plc, Okey Nwosu and three other directors of the bank.

According to a statement issued on Tuesday by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Justice Lateefat Okunnu convicted the four for stealing over ₦18 billion from the bank.

In her judgment delivered today, the court sentenced the 1st and 2nd Defendants (Okey Nwosu and Dayo Famoroti) to a three-year jail term and ordered them to repay the 18 billion Naira.

READ ALSO: Alleged Forgery: Obaseki Graduated From UI, Deputy Registrar Tells Court

While the 3rd Defendant (Danjuma Ocholi) was sentenced to 12months in jail and the 4th Defendant (Agnes Ebubedike) was sentenced to six months of community service.

The convicts were first arraigned in 2011 before Justice Okunnu, but the Court of Appeal had on November 21, 2013 quashed the charge brought against them by the EFCC and set them free.

The EFCC however, appealed to the Supreme Court, which upheld the appeal and ordered Nwosu and others to return to the high court for their trial.

They were subsequently re-arraigned before the court by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on a 26-count charge of stealing and illegal conversion.

SEE FULL STATEMENT HERE:

Court Jails Ex-Finbank MD, Nwosu, Three Others

Justice Lateefa A. Okunnu of the Lagos State High Court sitting in Ikeja, on Tuesday, January 5, 2021, convicted and sentenced Okey Nwosu, a former Managing Director, Finbank Plc, to three years imprisonment for over 10m fraud.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, had arraigned Nwosu alongside Dayo Famuroti, Agnes Ebubedike and Danjuma Ocholi on a 26-count amended charge bordering on stealing and illegal conversion to the tune of N10,934,704,402.

The defendants, who perpetrated the fraud while they were directors of the bank, pleaded not guilty to the charge preferred against them, thereby leading to their full trial.

In the course of the trial, the prosecution counsel, Rotimi Jacobs , SAN, called witnesses and also tendered several documents that were admitted in evidence against the defendants.

Delivering her judgment, the Judge found the defendants guilty and sentenced the first and second defendants, Nwosu and Famoroti, to three years imprisonment each.

The Judge also sentenced the third defendant, Ocholi, to 12 months imprisonment and slammed a six- month community service on the fourth defendant, Ebubedike.

The case had, suffered a setback as the defendants challenged the jurisdiction of the trial court up to the Supreme Court. While the court maintained its jurisdiction to try the defendants, Nwosu approached the Lagos Division of the Court of Appeal which in November 2013 struck out the charge against the banker.

The appellate court ruled that the Lagos High Court lacked jurisdiction to entertain the charges because they emanated from capital market transactions, which should be handled by the Federal High Court.

Following the appeal court ruling, Dayo Famoroti, Danjuma Ocholi and Agnes Ebubedike approached the Lagos High Court to dismiss the charges preferred against them.

But Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, counsel to EFCC had asked the court to adjourn the matter indefinitely pending the determination of its appeal at the Supreme Court

Justice Okunnu upheld the prayers of Jacobs and adjourned the matter sine die to allow the Supreme Court rule on the matter.

The Supreme Court, in its judgment, upheld EFCC’s appeal.

In a unanimous judgment, a seven-man panel of Justices of the apex court faulted the argument of the Court of Appeal that the decision by the EFCC to charge Nwosu and the other directors for stealing before the Lagos High Court, while it maintained a charge of money laundering against them, would amount to double jeopardy.

The Supreme Court directed Nwosu and co- defendants to submit themselves for trial before the Lagos High Court.

Wilson Uwujaren

Head, Media & Publicity

5 January, 2021

 

 

 

 

 

Ekiti Bank Robbery: Police Declare Suspect Wanted

A map of Ekiti, a state in South-West Nigeria.

 

The Ekiti State Police Command has declared one Samuel Omotoyinbo wanted following the recent bank robbery that took place in Iyin Ekiti last week.

This was disclosed in a statement issued on Tuesday by the Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Abutu Sunday.

According to the statement, the police authorities called on anyone with a clue that could lead to his arrest to notify the nearest police station.

Omotoyinbo with the nicknames Badoo and Eleven (11) was first declared wanted by the state Police Command some three weeks back for similar allegations.

                 EKITI STATE POLICE COMMAND

PRESS RELEASE

WANTED PERSON

 

The Ekiti State Police Command wishes to inform the general public that one Omotoyinbo Samuel has again been declared wanted by the Nigeria Police. He is suspected to have led the gang of armed Robbers who recently attacked the branch of WEMA Bank in Iyin-Ekiti.

  1. Our Investigation so far has revealed how Omotoyinbo Samuel actively participated in the Bank robbery as mastermind and other robberies, kidnapping and murder incidents in Ekiti State and Ondo State.

 

  1. His real name is Omotoyinbo Samuel but popularly called ELEVEN(11) in Ekiti State and BADO in Ondo State. He is an indigene of iyin Ekiti, Ekiti State where the recent bank robbery incident took place.

The Command implores any person with useful information that could lead to his arrest to please contact the nearest Police Station or the SARS Department on 07031620186 or the PPRO on 09064050086.

 

ASP ABUTU SUNDAY

PPRO

FOR: COMMISSIONER OF POLICE

EKITI STATE COMMAND

Gunmen Invade Ekiti Bank

Chief Imam’s Son, Two Others Kidnapped In Ogun Community
File photo of a gunman wearing bullets

 

Gunmen on Friday attacked a new generation bank in Iyin Ekiti area of Ekiti State.

The Police Public Relations Officer in the State, Sunday Abutu, confirmed the incident to Channels Television via a phone call.

He said no casualty has been confirmed, adding that the police team is working to launch a manhunt for the criminal gang.

Sources said the armed robbers, numbering close to 10, carted away large sums of money after blowing up the security door to gain access.

Residents of the town and travellers in transit reportedly scampered for safety following the sporadic gunshots that accompanied the arrival of the gang.

The operation was said to have lasted for at least 40  minutes without any police interruption,  raising questions about the absence of security operatives despite the presence of a police station in the town and the nearness of other police stations in bordering towns.

Just a few days ago, the State Police Command had asked residents to be cautious, warning of the presence of suspected armed hoodlums planning to cause panic.

The police authorities, however, gave the assurance that the Force is committed to saving lives and properties.

 

Tension In Niger Community As Suspected Bandits Attack Bank

APC Candidate Wins Niger East Senatorial Seat
A map of Niger, a state in north-central Nigeria.

 

Gunmen suspected to be bandits have attacked the First Bank branch in Kagara, a community in Rafi Local Government Area of Niger State.

Eyewitnesses said scores of armed men riding on motorcycles stormed the area at about 6pm on Wednesday and started shooting into the air before heading for the bank.

They added that many residents in the area sustained varying degrees of injury from gunshots and a yet-to-be-ascertained number of people were feared killed.

A traditional title holder in Kagara told Channels Television that members of the local vigilante group in the area had attempted to combat the assailants, but they were overpowered by the gunmen.

He started hearing the gunshots a short while after returning home, initially believing they were from the vigilante group in the area.

But when the shots persisted he suspected something was amiss. A phone call he received not long after confirmed what was going on.

Asked about the reaction of the police to the attack, and the situation around 8pm, he said, “The personnel we have cannot confront them (the attackers) as a matter of fact. Apart from the fact that they are many, they have more weapons.”

In addition to the firepower the attackers had, he said they positioned themselves  in strategic locations and acted in an organised manner.

Chief Imam’s Son, Two Others Kidnapped In Ogun Community
File photo of a gunman wearing bullets.

 

The source said details about the casualty figures were not clear but they were casualties on both side.

“I think one (of the attackers) was even captured alive,” he said. “I know of four people that were shot but not fatally… one on the arm, one on the leg, but the other two, I can’t tell where they were shot.”

He said a fighter jet from the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) had helped to repel the attack.

“When it started, we made some calls and an Air Force jet came. So that rattled them,” he said. If we have been having this kind of support as we have with the Air Force, I am telling you this thing (the attacks) would be a thing of the past.”

A message from a missionary in the area during the attack said a police station was also attacked.

“Sir, this evening at 6pm, bandits attacked Kagara town, killed six people in the bank, and attacked a police station.

“Please pray and ask our brethren to also pray for us. My family is in the bush now,” the message read.

It is unclear how much was stolen from the bank by the attackers and efforts to speak with the police authorities in Niger were unsuccessful.

When contacted, the Police Public Relations Officer, Abiodun Wasiu, did not pick his calls or respond to messages sent to his phone.

In recent times, Kagara and many other communities in Rafi LGA have come under serious security threats by bandits.

 

Stocks Advance As COVID-19 Restrictions Are Eased

WANG Zhao / AFP.

 

Most equities rose again on Wednesday as investors grew increasingly, but cautiously, hopeful that the worst of the coronavirus had passed and as countries begin to slowly open up from lockdown.

While a string of data highlighted the calamity visited upon the global economy by COVID-19, a slowdown in both infections and deaths in some nations is allowing them to ease restrictions that have kept half the planet stuck at home.

Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Richard Clarida provided an upbeat outlook, saying the US economy could see positive growth in the second half of the year, though tempered that by saying it was dependent on containment of the virus.

“Risk sentiment continues to be buoyed on news of more countries/states rolling back containment measures, followed by reports of more companies re-opening operations,” said Tapas Strickland of National Australia Bank.

“That is giving hope that rollback will allow economic activity to resume and that we may be passed the trough in economic activity.”

Hong Kong and Seoul rose more than one percent, while Shanghai put on 0.6 percent and Wellington added 0.8 percent. Taipei was flat but Sydney slipped slightly.

Singapore put on one percent, with Singapore Airlines surging as much as 21 percent at one point on hopes for a pick-up in business thanks to the easing lockdown measures. It pared the gains to sit around 10 percent higher in late trade.

In early trade, London was slightly higher but Paris and Frankfurt were slightly lower.

Mumbai soared more than one percent on stimulus hopes following data showing India’s factory and services activity collapsed in April.

The services purchasing managers index crashed 43.9 points to 5.4 in April — putting it in single digits for the first time — according to IHS Markit.

Anything below 50 in the gauge points to contraction and with the sector making up more than half of India’s gross domestic product, the group warned the economy likely shrunk 15 percent in the month.

– Fears of jobs horror show –

Fears of a second virus wave as the lockdown eases were keeping traders on their toes.

“It is absolutely dependent on what happens with respect to infection rates and whether there is the so-called second wave,” Andrew Wilson, at Goldman Sachs Asset Management, told Bloomberg TV.

“So as we ease these lockdowns there remains the risk that of course you then have to tighten up the controls. That’s why governments around the world are going to be relatively cautious about how they ease these lockdowns.”

Observers are also keeping tabs on China-US relations after President Donald Trump hit out at Beijing over its handling of the pandemic, sparking fears of a renewal of the economic superpowers’ trade war that hit markets last year.

“Worries that China could retaliate against the US virus and trade accusations are real,” said OANDA’s Jeffrey Halley. “If anything can undermine a peak virus rally, a US-China trade war would do the job nicely.”

Friday sees the much-anticipated release of US jobs data for April, with consensus forecasts that unemployment has surged to an incredible 16.2 percent — the highest since 1948 — from 4.4 percent. However, some economists expect it to rise even higher.

Oil markets were flat, having doubled since last Tuesday fuelled by hopes that demand will begin to pick up as people start going back out and start spending after the long-running lockdown in key economies.

“With economies reopening around the world and the market rebalancing in full swing, traders are positioning for a multi-staged pick-up in demand initially led by gasoline demand at the pump as consumers emerge from lockdowns,” said AxiCorp’s Stephen Innes.

He pointed out that as China emerges from its lockdown, figures showed traffic in the country’s big cities was higher than pre-virus levels, suggesting people were opting for private travel rather than public transport, which would be good for petrol demand.

– Key figures around 0810 GMT –

Hong Kong – Hang Seng: UP 1.1 percent at 24,137.48 (close)

Shanghai – Composite: UP 0.6 percent at 2,878.14 (close)

Tokyo – Nikkei 225: Closed for a holiday

London – FTSE 100: UP 0.1 percent at 5,857.02

West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 0.7 percent at $24.39 per barrel

Brent North Sea crude: UP 0.1 percent at $31.00 per barrel

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.0830 from $1.0834 at 2045 GMT

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 106.29 yen from 106.53 yen

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.2434 from $1.2435

Euro/pound: DOWN at 87.09 pence from 87.11 pence

New York – Dow: UP 0.6 percent at 23,883.09 (close).

 

Alleged Fraud: Ex-Banker Testifies In Fayose’s Trial

Fayose Involved In Road Accident
Former Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose (file).

 

 

Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke of the Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos has adjourned the fraud trial of former Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose.

The former governor is standing trial alongside his company, Spotless Investment Limited, on an 11-count bordering on fraud and money laundering to the tune of N2.2 billion.

At Friday’s sitting, a prosecution witness and a former employee of Skye Bank Plc (now Polaris Bank Plc), Olugboyega Falaye, gave his testimony before the trial judge.

He told the court how the bank had sold a property on 44, Plot 1214, Osun Crescent, Maitama, Abuja for N200 million sometime in 2016.

Falaye, who worked in the Real Estate Department of the bank, told the court that the property in question was put up for sale among other properties by the bank, after the approval granted by the Board, as well as the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

He said the list of the properties to be sold was given to a property agent.

The witness stated, “Thereafter, Skye Bank got a contact with a letter from Philtech Properties Limited in respect of the property in question. Philtech Properties Limited was represented by one Mrs. Titilayo and she made an offer for the property for the sum of N200 million.

“Skye Bank countered for N300 million, but we later agreed to sell the property for N200 million. We came up with all necessary documents for the transaction and the property was sold out.”

Falaye also told the court that the documents for the transaction with some attachments were submitted to the EFCC.

He said, “The attachments are ‘letter of offer’ from Skye Bank to Signature Integrated Limited (the principal to Philtech Properties Limited); letter from Philtech in response to Skye Bank’s letter making a counter-offer of N200 million to Skye bank; an email to confirm the office address of Philtech and the list of assets that was approved for sale by Skye Bank.”

Under cross-examination by counsel to the defendants and Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs), Ola Olanipekun and Olalekan Ojo, Falaye admitted that Skye Bank issued receipts of payment to Signature Integrated Limited.

He, however, told the court that he was not aware of any transaction between Still Earth and Signature Integrated.

The witness, during further cross-examination, told the court that the valuation of the property was carried out before the sale.

“There was nothing unusual about the transaction because the transaction went through the normal process,” he said.

Falaye, however, told the court that he did not know the individual who bought the property.

After listening to the testimony of the witness, Justice Aneke adjourned the case until May 18, 19 and 20, 2020 for the continuation of trial.

Armed Robbers Invade Ondo Bank, Kill Four Persons

Chief Imam’s Son, Two Others Kidnapped In Ogun Community

 

Some armed robbers have invaded an old generation bank in Ile-Oluji town in Ondo State.

The robbery was carried out on Thursday afternoon in Ile-Oluji/Okeigbo Local Government Area of the state.

During the attack, at least four people were feared killed by the armed men.

Authorities at the Ondo State Police Command have confirmed the incident to Channels Television.

But the Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Femi Joseph, could not give details of the attack.

He noted that the command had already deployed policemen to the scene while an investigation into the incident was ongoing.

The identities of those killed by the robbers have yet to be ascertained.

An eyewitness told Channels Television that the robbers gained entry into the bank using dynamites.

It was also gathered that some local hunters were also the trial of the robbers.

PHOTOS: Police Parade Four Suspects Linked To Abuja Bank Robbery

The four suspects paraded at the FCT Police Command in Abuja on December 31, 2019. PHOTOS: Channels TV/ Sodiq Adelakun

 

 

The police have paraded four suspects for their alleged involvement in Saturday’s bank robbery in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

Three of the suspects are said to be part of the group of armed men that attacked the bank while the fourth man is an official of the bank.

The four men were paraded on Tuesday at the Headquarters of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Police Command.

This comes three days after gunmen stormed a commercial bank located at Mpape, a satellite town in the nation’s capital.

READ ALSO: Police Kill One, Arrest Four In Failed Abuja Bank Robbery

The suspects were said to have gained entry into the banking hall after shooting sporadically into the air to scare people away.

This attracted the attention of many residents in the area who came out to witness what looked like a robbery scene out of a movie.

The assailants, however, came to the end of the road in the bid to carry out a successful and well-planned operation as they were trapped inside the bank.

This was as a result of the prompt response by security operatives made up of men of the Nigeria Police Forces, Nigerian Army, and the Department of State Services (DSS) who positioned themselves strategically in the area.

The suspects, thereafter, engaged the security team in gunfire, resulting in the death of one of the attackers while four others were arrested.

Following the incident, some Nigerians took to Twitter in various hilarious reactions as many described the robbery attack as scenes from popular series – Money Heist.

See the photos of the parade below:

Robbers Attack Commercial Bank In Ekiti

 

Armed Robbers have invaded a commercial bank in Oye Ekiti.

The robbers who launched their operation around the closing hour of the bank blew the entrance door with a dynamite.

The Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Caleb Ikechukwu, confirmed the incident to Channels Television but could not ascertain if there were casualties.

Eyewitness pictures sent to Channels Television also showed a police van on the road that had allegedly been set ablaze by the criminals as well as two yet to be identified persons, lying in a pool of blood.

Details later…

Reject MasterCard Transactions With NIMC Logo, Court Orders Banks

 

A Federal High Court in Lagos has ordered all Nigerian banks not to honour any Mastercard transaction that has the logo of the National Identity Card Management Commission (NIMC) on it, pending the determination of a design infringement suit filed by Chams Plc, and Chams Consortium against the Singaporean payment and financial technology company.

The trial judge, Justice Rilwan Aikawa also ordered that the court order and other processes, be served outside jurisdiction on Mastercard’s office at 152 Beach Road, 35-00, The Gateway East, Singapore.

The court made the order sequel to an ex-parte application filed by Chams Plc lawyer, Snr Advocate of Nigeria, Kemi Pinheiro asking the court for the restraining order.

Joined as defendants with the Singaporean firm in the suit, are its Nigerian subsidiary, Mastercard Services Sub-Sahara Ltd, National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), Mr Ajay Banga, Daniel Monehin, and Omokehinde Ojomuyide.

The court also listed the names of the banks on which the orders should be served before adjourning till November 25, 2019 to hear the motion on notice.

In a 41-paragraph statement of claim filed before the court, the plaintiffs claim that sometime in 2006, they were invited by the Federal Government of Nigeria to bid for the Nigeria National Identity Card project.

As a result of the invitation, the plaintiff says it went into research and originated a smart card technical design that could serve as a national identity card as well as a means of general financial payment and banking transaction.

“The smartcard design is as a result of extensive financial, human, and intellectual investment in research and development and same has never been executed in any part of Africa”, the plaintiffs averred.

The national identity card although designed primarily as an ID card, also has other functions that include the incorporation of bank transaction functionality such as cash withdrawals, balance enquiries, PIN change, bill payments, account transfers, and airtime purchases. It also features biometric functionality with electronic payments, and International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) travel card.

On May 25, 2007, NIMC on behalf of the Federal Government announced the plaintiff (Chams Plc) as the preferred bidder for the concession. This was confirmed by a letter from NIMC on the same date.

The plaintiff further stated that due to the national significance, complexity, and enormity of the project, it was necessary for them to collaborate with other companies and service providers to provide support in order to achieve the multi-faceted design it created.

“The first and second defendants, as a result of their perceived competence in the financial and payment service space, approached the plaintiffs through the 5th and 6th defendants on the authority of the 4th defendant with an offer to provide the payment infrastructure for the card”, the plaintiffs further averred, pointing to several correspondences between both parties.

The plaintiffs further stated: “The concession was awarded to the plaintiffs based upon its unique and ingenuous design submitted to the third defendant and the federal government.

The design was contained in the Lump Sum Contract of Works and Services for the Personalization of National Identity (Smart) cards and prototype documents submitted to the third defendant”.

The plaintiffs further pointed to several trainings and workshops they organized in conjunction with NIMC, between March and May, 2012, where stakeholders are sensitized on how the national identity card is programmed to work.

Technical partners, including MasterCard were also in attendance and they played active roles.

“The plaintiffs in uttermost good faith provided and made available their developments, research, design, and concept for the Nigerian National Identity (smart) Card to MasterCard in the belief that the plaintiffs and MasterCard were partners on the project”, it further stated.

Things, however, took another twist when in May 8, 2013, Mastercard in a press release announced to the world that it was set to produce over 100 million copies of the National identity smart card, using the exact designs created by the plaintiffs. “By the joint press release of the defendants, it was discovered that Mastercard, without recourse to the plaintiffs as the originators of the concept and design, unilaterally and without justifiable reason announced the publishing issuance, and distribution of the national identity smart cards based on the same concept and design created by the plaintiffs”, it was further claimed.

The specimen was allegedly released by Mastercard both in the press release, and on its global website, “where they applauded themselves for having developed an e-ID (electronics ID) for the Nigerian citizenry which has exactly the same features as the concept and design of the plaintiffs”, it stated.

The defendants allegedly went on subsequently to produce the e-ID for NIMC with the exact prototype created by the plaintiffs.

The plaintiffs further stated the technical details of the infringement on their designs.

Due to this infringement, the plaintiffs say that its contract with NIMC was terminated. Although the termination was challenged in court, NIMC and the plaintiffs resolved the issues amicably.

However, the plaintiff claimed that on its design, NIMC had already awarded a contract with them to produce 50 million e-cards. “In order to fully implement the contract, the plaintiffs entered into several agreements with the first defendant to provide support to achieve the desired objective of the contract.

The plaintiffs further claimed to have lost reputation, and enormous amounts of money as a result of the action of the defendants. Part of the loss included setting up of Chams limited that has capacity for processing and switching 100 million national identity cards; establishment of a card personalisation plant in Abuja, Nigeria that has capacity to produce 1,750,000 cards per day; and acquisition of several technical partners.

The grouse of the Plaintiffs according to its court processes is that Mastercard has stolen and infringed upon its intellectual property in the design of the National Identitiy card.

The plaintiffs, therefore, asked the court for the following reliefs:

A declaration that the plaintiffs as the originators and creators of the National Identity Smart Card design more particularly described in the statement of claim, are entitled to the exclusive and uninterrupted use of same without any interference by any other person;

A declaration that the act of the 1st, 2nd,4th, and 6th defendants in manufacturing, producing, or printing National Identity Smart Card with the design of the plaintiffs without consent of the plaintiffs, amounts to an infringement of the plaintiff’s intellectual property rights in the design;

An order of perpetual injunction restraining the 1st, 2nd, 4th and 6th from manufacturing, designing, producing, and or printing, or authorizing the manufacturing, producting, designing and or printing of any National Identity Card with the logo ”NIMC” more particularly described in the statement of claim;

An order for the delivery -up, or destruction upon oath of all National Identity Smart Card produced by the 1st, 2nd,4th, and 6th defendants using the plaintiffs’ concept and design or other articles in the possession, custody, or control of the defendants;

An inquiry as to damages or at the plaintiff’s option, an account of profit, and order for payment of all sums due together with interest as aforesaid.

N25m Fraud: Court Jails Two Ex-Bankers After 10 Years Trial

Bauchi Assembly Crisis: Court Orders Parties To Maintain Status Quo

 

Justice Adama Iyami- Lamikanra of the Rivers State High Court sitting in Port Harcourt has convicted and sentenced a former manager of Diamond Bank Plc (now Access Bank), Chinyere Oti, and a former account officer of the same bank, Odigboh Okechukwu, to two years imprisonment.

The duo were jailed on Monday for defrauding the bank the sum of N25,018,467, the spokesman from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Wilson Uwujaren, said in a statement.

The convicts were arraigned on November 19, 2009, by the Port Harcourt Zonal Office of the EFCC on seven charges bordering on conspiracy and stealing.

READ ALSO: Kaduna Poly Rector Seeks Joint Action Against Kidnappers

The charges were amended on April 25, 2019.

Count four of the charge read, “Odigboh Okechukwu and Chinyere Oti on or about the  23rd day of October, 2008 at Diamond Bank Plc  Port Harcourt within the Port Harcourt Judicial Division did fraudulently steal the sum of  twenty million four hundred and thirty one thousand three hundred and forty two naira five kobo (N20,431,342.05) property of Diamond Bank Plc by means of Diamond Bank Cheque No. 16216303 through an unfunded account in the name of Achufa Investment Limited operated by Odigboh Okechukwu and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 381 (1) and punishable under Section 390( 9) of the Criminal Code CAP 37  Vol. II Laws of Rivers State of Nigeria 1999.”

The defendants, however, pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Their pleas led to a 10-year- long trial.

The prosecution called three witnesses and tendered 15 exhibits while the defence called three witnesses.

Delivering her judgment on Monday, Justice Iyayi- Lamikanra found the two defendants guilty of the charges and sentenced them to two years imprisonment each or an option of fine of N1,000,000 each.

She also ordered the convicts to pay a sum of N25 million as restitution to Diamond Access Bank Plc.

Trouble came for the two convicts when the former Diamond Bank Plc petitioned the EFCC alleging that its manager at  Rumukwrushi Branch in Port Harcourt, Mrs Chinyere Oti, fraudulently opened a current account for one of its customers and used the account to make fraudulent withdrawals and overdrew it to N25,018,467.

Investigations revealed that the alleged customer of the bank never opened an account with the bank, but Okechukwu used the customer’s photograph to open the account without the customer’s knowledge or consent.

It was through the account the two convicts defrauded the bank.

Alleged N34bn Fraud: Ex-Bank Director Challenges Forfeiture Of N9bn

Bauchi Assembly Crisis: Court Orders Parties To Maintain Status Quo

 

The Court of Appeal sitting in Lagos is set to hear the case of a former First Bank Director, Mr Dauda Lawal, who is challenging the forfeiture of a sum of N9 billion.

In documents put before the court, Mr Lawal claims that the Federal High Court in Lagos which ordered the forfeiture of the money to the Federal Government had no jurisdiction to do so.

The money, N9.08 billion is part of a larger sum of N23.4 billion and another $5 million (totalling about N34bn then), which the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) linked to former Petroleum Minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke.

The EFCC alleged that the sums were stolen by Mrs Alison-Madueke and several accomplices from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and stashed in three banks.

The commission made these arguments before Justice Muslim Hassan of the Federal High Court, Lagos while seeking the forfeiture of the monies and in February 2017.

Justice Hassan ordered the final forfeiture of the funds after ruling that no one had legitimate claims to the monies.

At the time, the judge said he was satisfied with the EFCC’s argument that the monies were proceeds of illegal activity.

However, the former bank boss in his sole application before the Court of Appeal is challenging the forfeiture of N9.08bn out of the money.

In his notice of appeal, Lawal contended that the judge erred in law by ordering the forfeiture and asked the appellate court to make an order to “set aside the judgment dated 16 February 2017 for being without jurisdiction and thereby a nullity.”

He also sought an order setting aside the forfeiture of the money which he said the EFCC obtained from him while he was being detained.

The former bank director urged the court to order the EFCC to return the sum to him.

In documents put in support of his application, he submitted that the forfeited money was not found in his possession as required by Section 17 of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act.

He had earlier admitted receiving $25 million of the sum in the clear dispensation of his duties but insisted that he was coerced by the commission to further admit receiving a total of $65 million.

Lawal, therefore, sought a refund of the balance of $40m (about N9.08bn at the time) which he said he had to borrow from family and friends to pay while he was in EFCC custody.

He argued that his failure to appeal the forfeiture within time was due to his “apprehension that if he challenged the judgment whilst the investigation was ongoing, he would be further detained by the EFCC.”

The former bank official has, however, been charged alongside some others following the conclusion of the investigation by the EFCC.

When the matter came up for mention, the court adjourned further proceedings and told parties that a date for hearing would be communicated to them.