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

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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.

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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.

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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

 

 

 

 

 

Senate Committee Investigates Cecilia Ibru’s Siezed Assets

senateThe Senate has begun investigating an allegation made by stakeholders that the Asset Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON) failed to remit funds and assets of former Managing Director of the Defunct Oceanic Bank, Mrs Cecilia Ibru to shareholders, as well as Eco Bank, the company that took over Oceanic Bank

At an investigative hearing organized by the Senate Committee on Drugs, Narcotics and Financial Crimes, the committee observed that four years after entering into a plea bargain with the office of the Attorney General of the Federation, Mrs Cecilia Ibru is yet to remit N16.1 million to AMCON.

However, the Acting Managing Director of AMCON, Mrs Foluke Dosunmu said AMCON had not taken up Mrs Ibru over the N16.1 billion, because it had not ascertained her unwillingness to pay it, saying once it is confirmed that she’s not ready to pay, the corporation would take her back to court.

The Acting MD Also maintained that AMCON does not owe the Oceanic or Eco Bank.

The Senate Committee also faulted AMCON over its failure to follow due procedures in the sales of some recovered properties, as they revealed how the corporation had failed to advertise the property before embarking on sales as required by the rules governing sales of government property.

The Senate Committee, headed by Senator Victor Lar had entertained a petition said to have been filed by a Nigerian whose name was not disclosed, said that the sale of the properties by (AMCON) were questionable.

The seized assets, worth N569 billion, were taken over by the Federal Government, following a plea bargain entered into by Mrs Ibru. The committee said that the mode of disposal of the assets located within and outside Nigeria was shrouded in secrecy.

Senator Victor Lar said on Monday that Ibru had pleaded guilty, during the course of her prosecution and entered into a plea bargain with the government, while handing over assets allegedly bought with depositor’s funds.

President Jonathan Appoints New SAs And Chief Executives

President Goodluck Jonathan has approved fresh appointments to fill existing vacancies.

The new appointments are in furtherance of efforts to continually strengthen his administration, as contained in a statement by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati.

General Martin Agwai (rtd.) who was until now the Deputy Chairman and Acting Chairman of SURE-P has been named the Chairman of the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme, SURE-P, with Mrs. Tanwa Olusi as his deputy.

The current Nigerian Ambassador to Switzerland, Mrs. Fidelia Njeze is now Special Adviser to the President on New Partnership for Africa’s Development, NEPAD, while Senator Suleiman Ajadi was named Special Adviser on National Assembly Matters.

The former Special Adviser to President Jonathan on Media and Publicity, Mr. Ima Niboro, has been named as the Managing Director of the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN; with Mr. Sola Omole as the Director-General of the Nigerian Television Authority, NTA and Alhaji Ladan Salihu as the Director-General of the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria, FRCN.

General Agwai replaced Dr. Christopher Kolade, who resigned voluntarily as the Chairman of SURE-P in 2013. Both Ajadi and Njeze replaced Senator Joy Emordi and Dr. Tunji Olagunju who were both sacked.

“All the appointments are with immediate effect,” the statement read.