OSOPADEC Boss, Four Others Docked For N540m Fraud
AKURE, June 14, (THEWILL) - The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Thursday arraigned the chairman, Ondo State Oil Producing Area Development Commission (OSOPADEC), Adebowale Henry Ajimuda and four others before Justice Gloria Okeke of the Federal High Court, sitting in Akure, on a 13-count charge bordering on fraud, embezzlement of public funds and conspiracy to commit fraud to the tune of over N540million.
The four others are Mann Omobayi Alli, Ikuomola Vincent Aghone, Mafolabomi Monday and Olayinka Olaitan Joseph.
The funds were allegedly embezzled in four installments. The first installment involving N150m was drawn with a First Bank of Nigeria Plc cheque number HC8050863652; the second installment of N75m was pulled out with a First Bank cheque number HC8050867481; the third, of N75m, was drawn with a First Bank cheque number HC8050866673; while the fourth installment involved a princely sum of N240million.
The scam was deodorised through four forged vouchers of OSOPADEC, which were raised by the accused persons to cover the phony expenditure. The accused persons claimed that N300m of the fund was committed into the training of 3,000 ex-militants.
Prosecution counsel, Aso Larry Peters had sought leave of the court for the 13-count charge to be read to the accused persons and their plea taken, which was granted. The five accused persons, however, pleaded not guilty to all the charges.
Lead defence counsel, Banjo Ayeniji told the court that he had filed a formal bail application for the accused persons. He observed that the offences, which the accused are alleged to have committed, are bailable and urged the court to grant them bail on liberal terms.
However, prosecution counsel, Peters, opposed the bail application. He urged the court to take judicial notice of evidence before it, and the fact that if granted bail, the accused persons might intimidate the prosecution witnesses.
Peters also told the court that the EFCC intended to file fresh charges against the accused persons before an Ogun State High Court, and so releasing them on bail could jeopardize investigations.
In her ruling, Justice Okeke granted the accused persons bail in the sum of N1million each and one surety each in like sum, who must not be of lower status than that of a director in the Federal Civil Service.
Before adjourning hearing to 26th September, 2012, Justice Okeke ordered the accused persons to report to the Ondo State Commissioner of Police on the first Wednesday of every month.