EFCC Arraigns Former Banker For $368, 203 Scam
… Tenders More Exhibits In N24bn Police Pension Scam Suit
… Court Stops Atuche's Bid to Stall Trial In N27.5 Bn fraud Case
… Fake GLO Ambassador Bags 2 Years Jail Term
SAN FRANCISCO, June 25, (THEWILL) - A former banker with one of the old generation banks, Oreoluwa Adesakin, was on Wednesday arraigned before Justice O.M Olagunju of an Oyo State High Court sitting in Ibadan, on a 15-count charge bordering on stealing by fraudulent conversion, contrary to Section 390 (8) (C) Cap 38 of the Criminal Code, Laws of Oyo State, 2000.
The accused person who was in charge of Western Union Money Transfer at First Bank Nigeria Plc, allegedly used her office to convert a total sum of $ 368,203.00(Three Hundred and Sixty Eight Thousand, Two Hundred and Three United States Dollars) for her personal use. She allegedly perpetrated the fraud, by using her position and office to raise vouchers for payment of money in excess of what was meant for customers of the bank. Investigations showed that, Adesakin used the money to acquire landed properties in Ibadan and to float a company: Empathy Trade and Investment Company, Limited.
One of the charge reads: “that you Oreoluwa Adesakin on or about the 23rd day of October, 2012 at the Bola Ige Market Branch of First Bank, Ibadan, within the Ibadan Judicial Division, whilst being a Cashier at Bola Ige Market Branch of First Bank Plc in charge of Western Union Money Transfer Operations, fraudulently converted the sum of $4,500 (Four Thousand Five Hundred Dollars) property of First Bank Plc via Western Union Money Transfer payment, Money Transfer Control Number (MTCN) 733437 to your personal use.”
When the charges were read to the accused person, she pleaded not guilty to the charges.
In view of her plea, prosecuting counsel, Zainab Ettu asked for a trial date and prayed the court to remand the accused person in prison custody. But the defense counsel, Samuel Adeniji, informed the court that he had placed an application for bail before it and prayed that the accused person be remanded in EFCC custody. This prayer was opposed by Ettu, who reminded the court that the EFCC did not have an office in Ibadan. “Besides, the proper place of custody after arraignment is the prison”, she said.
Justice O.M Olagunju after listening to both counsel, fixed July 1, 2014 for the hearing of bail application and ordered that the accused person be remanded in Agodi prison, Ibadan.
Meanwhile, the ongoing trial of seven persons accused of complicity in the police pension scam, continued on Wednesday before Justice Hussein Baba Yusuf of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
The seven accused persons who are being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission are; Esai Dangabar, Atiku Abubakar Kigo, Ahmed Inuwa Wada, Mrs. Veronica Ulonma Onyegbula, Sani Habila Zira, Uzoma Cyril Attang and Christian Madubuke.
The accused persons, who allegedly defrauded the Police Pension Office to the tune of N24billion, were arraigned on April 10, 2013 on a 20-count amended charge that borders on criminal breach of trust contrary to section 315 of the Penal code Act Cap 532 Laws of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, Nigeria 2007.
At the resumed hearing of the case Wednesday, Mustapha Gadanya who was led in evidence by counsel to EFCC, Rotimi Jacobs, SAN told the court that while investigating the matter, he requested e-payment mandate and other payment instructions from the Police Pension Office. 'In response they brought along copies of payment instructions which explained the transactions on the account apart from the cheques,' he said.
The letter of request emanating from EFCC and the corresponding documents from First Bank of Nigeria Plc, duly certified by staff of the Bank and the EFCC, were tendered in evidence.
However, the defence opposed the admissibility of the documents from Police Pension Office to First Bank Nigeria Plc, authorizing the transactions on the ground that, the Bank could not certify a document that it did not generate.
Justice Baba-Yusuf admitted the letters of request from the EFCC as Exhibits 7 A and B but agreed with the defence that only the Police Pension Office can authenticate its documents.
Testifying further, Gadanya told the court how EFCC investigation uncovered direct payment of allowances to the accounts of staff of the Police Pension Office in contravention of the e - payment circular.
'We sent a letter to the Office of Accountant General to confirm if there was an exemption to the Police Pension Office with regards to e-payment, which they responded that they were not aware', he stated. Copies of the letter and the response from Accountant General were tendered and admitted as Exhibit 8 A and B.
The prosecution also tendered three letters from the EFCC requesting the Police Pension Office to furnish it with vouchers, cashbooks and other accounting documents detailing the withdrawals of cash within the period of 2009 to 2011; 2007 to 2008 as exhibits. The response from the Police Pension Office to the request was equally admitted as exhibits.
The defence led by Adegboyega Awomolo, SAN however, kicked against the admissibility of one of the responses dated January 6, 2014 claiming that it was a ploy to subvert the trial because the date showed that, it was written in the course of the ongoing prosecution. However, Jacobs argued that, the document does not violate the Evidence Act. He stated further that, the letter is admissible as the person tendering it has no personal or peculiar interest in the matter.
Justice Baba-Yusuf reserved ruling for the admissibility of the letter of dated January 6, 2014 and titled, “RE- Investigation Activities”, to September 24, 2014.
Also, Justice Lateefa Okunnu of a Lagos High Court sitting in Ikeja, Wednesday stopped further attempts by a former Managing Director of Bank PHB, Mr. Francis Atuche to delay trial in a N27.5Billion suit instituted against him and two other defendants by the EFCC.
At the resumed trial of the case on Wednesday, EFCC counsel, Kemi Pinheiro SAN, insisted that the defence team, led by Tayo Oyetibo, SAN, call Atuche or his wife Elizabeth, to the witness box, following their failure to produce a witness who, according to them, was meant to come in from Abuja, but could not make it due to bad weather.
“I recall the defence telling this court that they will close their case on Tuesday, and today, a witness is absent again. My Lord, apart from the witness that is not present in court, the defence said the defendants will give evidence in this case and the defendants are in court and no reason has been given why the first and second defendants cannot testify. I implore my Lord, to order the defence to call the defendants to give their evidence in order not to waste the time of the court”. Oyetibo countered that, 'the evidence of the witness need to go before those of the defendants.”
After listening to both arguments, Justice Okuunu ruled that “a good reason must be given for adjournments and the court is bound to act judicially and judiciously. I have also seen that there has been rainfall but not a storm. I do not believe that any cogent and tenable reason has been given for the absence of the witness, so this court is being asked to wait at the leisure of the witness. I urge the defence to call the first or second defendant to the stand, to give evidence. The court will therefore stand down this case to enable the defense confer with their client”.
At the resumed session, Oyetibo further argued, “I came into the case after Chief Idigbe, SAN, who was the defence counsel, took ill and travelled abroad for treatment and I have not had access to the volumes of documents earlier tendered. I believe the first and second defendants should be accorded the opportunity to be led in evidence by Chief Idigbe, who was present when evidence was tendered against the first and second defendants. I pray the court to adjourn to the dates earlier fixed”.
Pinheiro immediately reminded the court that Oyetibo came into the case more than a year ago, on February 11, 2013, which was enough time for him to be fully abreast of the matter.
According to him, “the defence filed a colossal 475- paged address on the no -case submission, and it was a full analysis of the case, attacking the prosecution's evidences and Oyetibo contributed in no small measure to that document. Against this background, I find his excuse untenable. But as a midway suggestion, let one of the defendants be called to the witness box and sworn-in before taking an adjournment”.
Justice Okuunu then ruled that, no tangible reason had been given for a second adjournment, so defence should call their witness and then the court can call for an adjournment. Atuche was called into the witness box and was still giving an account of his biography when Justice Okuunu stopped him and adjourned the matter till July 7, 8 and 11, 2014.
Francis Atuche, Elizabeth Atuche and Ugo Anyanwu are standing trial on a 47-count charge for allegedly stealing N27.5 billion from bank PHB while Atuche was the Managing Director of the bank.
Also, Justice Mohammed Garba Umar of the Federal High Court, Gombe Tuesday sentenced one Khalil Ahmed Bappa, 29, who claimed to be a GLO Ambassador, to 24 months imprisonment for fraudulently extorting goods and money worth N267, 000 from a female student of Bayero University, Kano, Yusra Ali Babakusa, with assurances of making her a Glo Ambassador.
Khalil who has been standing trial on charges bordering on obtaining by false pretences surprisingly changed his plea midway by pleading guilty to the 2-count charge.
Troubles for Khalil started sometime in 2012 when he presented himself as a GLO agent and promised to help Yusra become a GLO Ambassador through his contacts at the Communication's company. The convict had forwarded a code number to Yusra with assurances that she would soon be called up as one of the eventual winners and ambassador. Subsequently, Khalil instructed her to send some money to him to facilitate the process. The accused person further told her to prepare for an interview trip to GLO head office in Lagos as her name had been selected; a journey Khalil said had been paid for by GLO (accommodation and return flight ticket).
On the expected day of the journey, Khalil prompted her to wait for him, but stopped answering her calls after a while and eventually switched off his phone. It was when she made numerous attempts to reach him but failed, that she realized she had been conned.
Justice Umar sentenced the convict to 12 months imprisonment without an option of fine on each of the counts. The sentence would however run concurrently from the date of arrest.
The court also ordered the convict to restitute his victim before the completion of his jail term and release from prison detention.