N179 Million Fraud: Former Ecobank Manager, Husband Arraigned For Theft

A Lagos High Court sitting in Igbosere, Lagos Island, has fixed May 21 for ruling in the bail application filed by a former Ecobank Plc Customer Service Manager, Mrs Tosin Lawal and her husband, Michael, accused of defrauding the bank of the sum of N179.8million.

The defendants were today arraigned on an eleven-count charge bordering on conspiracy and theft before the court presided over by Justice Christopher Balogun.

They both pleaded not guilty.

The duo were accused by the State of having conspired to defraud Ecobank Nigeria Plc of the sum through fraudulent sales of foreign currency.

According to the charges, the offence contravenes Sections 390 and 516 of the Criminal Code, Laws of Lagos State, 2003.

It would be recalled that the couple were arraigned in January 24, 2012  before Justice Samuel Candide-Johnson of the same court, who granted the second defendant bail in the sum of N5million before the case was transferred to the present Judge.

When the matter came up for hearing on Thursday, the prosecuting lawyer, Ola Owodunni informed the judge that the bail application of the second defendant will be left unopposed but urged the court not to grant the first defendant bail.

According to the lawyer, “A counter affidavit has been filed in response to the bail application for the first defendant which explains that the couple are a flight risk and should not be granted bail.

“Another fact I want the court to take into consideration is that they were arrested at the Muritala Muhammed International Airport at 9.00 p.m while trying to escape from the country.”

The prosecuting further submitted that the second defendant already enjoys the discretion of the court having already been granted bail at the first arraignment by Justice Candide-Johnson

He stressed that extending the same privilege to the first defendant bail might lead to their absence for trial.

However, the defence lawyer Mr Oyedipo has assured the court that the defendants would not abscond over a mere case of stealing if granted bail.

“The police had initially granted the defendants bail four months before their arraignment and they did not jump bail so i see no reason why they should be considered a flight risk now.

“It is not peculiar for any applicant to consider running away if granted bail but what the court does is to impose terms to ensure that applicants turn up for trial,” Oyedipo added.

He also submitted that the premises and conclusions of the counter affidavit opposing the bail application is faulty and urged the court to exercise its discretion in favour of the first defendant.