FRAUD: EX-VANGUARD ACCOUNTANT'S TRIAL FOR MAY 8
By Abdulwahab Abdulah, Onozure Dania & Donald Arji
LAGOS - An Ikeja High Court has fixed May 8, 2012, as a trial date for the former Chief Accountant of Vanguard Media Limited, Mr. Bhadmus Yisa and the company's Regional Circulation Officer in Onitsha, Anambra State, Mr James Unoka, to answer charges of stealing and conspiracy brought against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
The trial judge, Justice Abisola Okunnu, who fixed the date for trial, also granted Unoka bail in her ruling on the bail application.
The court granted him bail in the sum of N5 million with two sureties who must be resident and also own property in Lagos with a proof of affidavit of means.
Justice Okunnu also ordered that one of his sureties must be a close relation and that the sureties must have evidence of tax payment to the state government in the last three years.
The court further ordered Unoka to appear before the Delta State Police Command on every first working day of the month until the case was disposed off.
However, Bhadmus, the first defendant in the 16-count charge of conspiracy and stealing of the company's money was yet to bring a formal application for bail before the court on the ground that he intended to find a way of consolidating a sister case in another court before filing his application.
The two defendants were, yesterday, brought to the court from custody where they were detained on the order of the court. Bhadmus wore a T-shirt with a pair of Jeans while Unoka put on a blue long sleeves shirt with Jeans trousers and a pair of sandals.
At the hearing of the application for bail, counsel representing Unoka had prayed the court to grant him bail on liberal terms, arguing that he would definitely appear in court for his trial.
However, the EFCC represented by Mr. A. Kabir, opposed the bail, arguing that the court must consider that the matter involved fraud and that there is likelihood that the applicant might never return to court for trial.
Kabir also argued that the applicant did not place enough evidence before the court to warrant the bail being requested. He noted that there was a time Unoka failed to turn up at the EFCC when he was granted administrative bail, which almost led to the revocation of his bail.
Mr. Samuel Agwe, Unoka's counsel, in his submission contended that his client was entitled to bail under the constitution and that as an accused person, he was still presumed innocent of the charges levelled against him.
Asking the court to grant him bail on liberal terms, he submitted that Unoka never ran away when he was granted an administrative bail by the EFCC while the investigation of the case lasted.
In her short ruling Justice Okunnu held that the EFCC has not shown sufficient ground to stop the court from granting the application for bail, saying the decision to grant bail was that of the court. She, therefore, admitted the applicant to bail.
Bhadmus and Unoka were accused of forgery and defrauding Vanguard Media Ltd to the tune of N7.9 million between January 2006 and June 2008 by converting the money for their personal use.
They were said to have committed the offence by forging different bank slips from where they fraudulently made away with the money.
The EFCC alleged that Badmus and Unoka had between January 2006 and June 2008 in Lagos, conspired to steal by fraudulently converting N7.9 million belonging to the company, to their personal use.
They were also accused of forging two United Bank of Africa (UBA) deposit slips No. 3812385 and 6633835 in the sum of N42,915 and N254,200 respectively.
According to the charge against them, their offences are contrary to and punishable under Sections 390(7), 467 (2) and 516 of the Criminal Code Law, Cap C17, Vol. 2, Laws of Lagos State 2003.
The 16-count charge read in part: 'Conspiracy to steal contrary to Section 516 of the Criminal Code Law cap C17. Vol 2. Laws of the Lagos State of Nigeria 2003.
Particulars of Offence: 'Bhadmus Yhisa Abiodun and Unoka James between the 27th of January 2006 and 20th of September 2006 at Lagos within the Ikeja Judicial division with intent to defraud conspired to commit felony to wit; stealing money property of vanguard media limited.
Statement of Offence: Conspiracy to steal contrary to Section 390(7) of the Criminal Code cap C17. Vol 2. Laws of the Lagos State of Nigeria 2003.
Particulars of Offence: ' Bhadmus Yhisa Abiodun and Unoka James between the 27th of January 2006 and 20th of September 2006 at Lagos within the Ikeja Judicial division with intent to defraud ,fraudulent converted the sum of N1,250,000.00 (one million two hundred and fifty thousand naira) property of vanguard media limited and fraudulent converted the sum of N1,250,000.00 (one million two hundred and fifty thousand naira) property of vanguard media limited.
'Bhadmus Yhisa Abiodun and Unoka James between the 8th of January 2007 and 4th of May 2007 at Lagos within the Ikeja Judicial division with intent to defraud, fraudulent converted the sum of N800,000.00 (Eight hundred thousand naira) property of vanguard media limited.
'Bhadmus Yhisa Abiodun and Unoka James on or about the 28th of November 2007 at Lagos within the Ikeja Judicial division with intent to defraud Vanguard Media Limited forged a United Bank for Africa Plc deposit slip NO. 3812385 dated 28th November 2007 purporting to be in the value of N42,915,00( Forty two thousand, Nine hundred and fifteen naira).'