EFCC Docks Banker Over N32 million Fraud
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission arraigned a 39 year old branch manager of United Bank of Africa, Victor Onodavwerho on a four count charge before a Federal High Court sitting in Asaba, Delta State for offences bordering on stealing and illegal conversion of depositors fund for personal use.
Onodavwerho, a father of seven children was alleged to have as branch manager/relationship manager of UBA, Asaba branch illegally withdrawn the sum of N32 million from depositors accounts which he paid into his personal account with Fidelity Bank Plc.
When the charges were read to him in court, he pleaded not guilty to the four count charge. Consequently, counsel to EFCC,Kayode Oni asked the court to fix a date for trial. He also asked the court to remand the accused person in prison pending the determination of the case.
However, counsel to the accused person, K . O. Ijatui, asked the court to grant his client bail because the alleged offences were bailable. He also stated that the accused person has been on EFCC administrative bail since 2008. He told the court that since the accused person has not jumped bail since 2008, he would still not jump bail even if he is allowed to go home. He said the accused person voluntarily turned up in court today at the invitation of EFCC and that he would continue to do so whenever he is called upon. Counsel to EFCC vehemently opposed the application for bail. He told the court that though the Commission granted the suspect administrative bail, the circumstances of the case has changed.
Justice Ibrahim Buba however granted the accused person bail. He stated that if the accused person has been enjoying administrative bail, he has no difficulty granting him judicial bail pending the determination of the case.
He thereafter granted the accused bail in the sum of N50 million and a surety in like sum.
The surety should have landed property within the jurisdiction of the court and that the C of O of the property be deposited with the court registrar.
The judge also ordered that that the passport photographs of the accused and the surety be deposited in court.
The accused person is also to write an undertaking that he would not delay the trial of the case.
The judge ordered that until the bail conditions were meant, the accused person should be remanded in prison custody.
Justice Ibrahim Buba then adjourned the case to November 10 for trial.
What seems to be an irony is that although Onodavwerho pleaded not guilty to the charges in the open court, he had in his confessional statement taken responsibility for the illegal withdrawals. According to him, "I have read the petition with regards to fraudulent withdrawals of N25 million from customers accounts and wish to state that I accept liability for the managers cheque of N11.25 million rasised from SUBEB's account and susequently paid into JONAC Apartment's account with Access Bank.... The account from which the money was removed belongs to the Delta State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) a parastatal of the Delta State government. I checked the authorized signatories to the account on the system and I initiated it on the letterhead... This happened early 2008 but i cannot recollect the exact date. I also used the same method to remove another N2 million in September this year (2008) from the same account. I did all these alone.... I used the money to pay backsome of my debts, developed a property at Asaba and purchased some shares."
Count one of the charges reads: “That you, Victor Onodavwerho on or about 4th February 2008 at Asaba within the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court whilst as Business/Relationship Manager of UBA Plc Asaba II Branch did convert the sum of N19,000,000.00 ( Nineteen Million Naira) to the credit of your account No 05940100035220 with Fidelity Bank Plc Warri Branch which sum you knew represents the proceeds of crime and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 14 (1) of the money laundering Act 2004.”
Count two reads:
“That you, Victor Onodavwerho on or about 19th February 2008 at Asaba within the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court whilst as Business/Relationship Manager of UBA Plc Asaba II Branch did convert the sum of N1,900,000.00 ( One Millon,Nine hundred Thousand Naira) to the credit of your account No 05940100035220 with Fidelity Bank Plc Warri Branch which sum you knew represents the proceeds of crime and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 14 (1) of the money laundering Act 2004.”