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EFCC Docks Bank Manager, Others For N42m Fraud

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UYO, June 20, (THEWILL) - The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has arraigned Mr. Michael Adewole, branch manager of Oceanic International Bank Plc (now Ecobank Plc) and four others before Justice A. I. Chikere of the Federal High Court sitting in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.

They were arraigned on a 20-count charge bordering on conspiracy, forgery, fraudulent conversion and non-compliance with the Know-Your-Customer (KYC) directive.

The other accused persons are Chief Patrick Eyo Ente, Hon. Chrysanctus B. Etteh, Chief Francis B. Ekpenyong, Chief Umana Etor Umana, plus the bank, situated at 145 Ekot Ekpene Road, Uyo.

The accused persons pleaded not guilty to all the charges preferred against them, prompting the defence counsel, Francis Ekanem, Tajudeen Alade and Samuel Akpabio to immediately make an oral bail application, urging the court to allow them to continue enjoying the administrative bail granted them by the EFCC.

While adjourning the case to 27th September 2012 for trial, the judge granted that the accused persons should continue to enjoy the administrative bail. But they are to report at the headquarters of the Akwa Ibom State Police Command every first Wednesday of the month. He added that the bail would be revoked should any of the accused persons fail to show up in court at any time during the trial.

Trouble started for the banker when he failed to comply with the account mandate of Okopedi Community (Okobo Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State) before transferring funds from the community’s account with the bank.

The petitioner alleged that in 2006, the Akwa Ibom State Government paid the sum of N44,648,444.00 to indigenes of Okopedi Community as compensation for acquiring about 98 per cent of their farmland for the purpose of constructing the Akwa Ibom State International Airport.

The community’s Council of Chiefs and other stakeholders agreed to put the amount in a fixed deposit account with Oceanic Bank Plc. In addition, they nominated Chief Patrick Eyo Ente, Hon. Chrysanctus B. Etteh, Chief Francis B. Ekpenyong, Chief Umana Etor Umana, Mr. Michael E. Asiya and Mrs. Felicia Ibok Effiong as signatories to the account

While opening the account, the community gave the bank a mandate that four out of the six signatories could withdraw money from the said account but that the bank must get confirmation from the Council of Chiefs of the community before approving any withdrawal.

However, the bank ignored this mandate and used the community fund as collateral for a facility which it gave to four out of the six signatories namely: Chief Patrick Eyo Ente, Rt. Hon. Chrysanctus B. Etteh, Chief Francis B. Ekpenyong and Chief Umana Etor Umana.