Missing N244 Million: NAHCO Officials, Others Face Criminal Charges

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A criminal charge of money laundering filed against a Lagos businessman, Prince Orji Chu  Ikem, who lost N244,500,000 during  a business trip to China, is to be withdrawn by the  Nigerian police.

Also facing criminal charges of Advance Fee Fraud are two companies, Pathfinder  International Limited, NAHCO Management and eight of their staff namely, Awonubi Olusegun  Abayomi, Jenifer Eze, Adenike Sobogun, Adeyinka Adegbesan, Abioye Yusuf, Bukky Adeyemo,  Ige Ekundayo and Williams Omotayo.

What led to the criminal charges started sometimes in December, 2007, when Prince Orji  Chu Ikem was about to go to China to buy some goods and some of his business associates  who wanted him to help them buy some goods also contributed money which was given to him  including his own money, totalling $1,630,000.

However, some officials of Emirate Airlines promised to assist him to travel with the  money and consequently, it was packed in four bags, two of which were to be taken into  the aircraft as hand luggage, while the remaining two as cargo.

As Prince Orji was about to board the aircraft, officials of the airline intercepted him  and was forced to disclose the content of his bag. He was then told it was illegal to  carry such amount of money as hand luggage and promised to deliver the bags to him on  getting to China.

On arrival in China, however, the bags were nowhere to be found and the owner was  referred to Emirate Airlines office in that country, who confirmed that the bags were not  loaded while the remaining two were marked rejected.

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He came back to Nigeria for further enquiry as he lodged formal complaint at the Emirate  Airlines office and when there was no clue as to what happened to the bags, the matter  was reported at the Special Fraud Unit of the Federal Criminal Investigation Department,  Alagbon, Ikoyi, Lagos.

The Nigerian police swung into action and on investigation, some officials of  Emirate  Airlines were recommended for criminal prosecution after which another criminal charge  number FHC/L/386C/09 was made against Emirate Airlines and some of its officials.

The charge was later substituted with another charge including Prince Orji Chu Ikem as  the first accused.

Meanwhile, the office of the Attorney General of the Federation has taken over the  prosecution of the accused persons.

However, in a bid to withdraw the current charge pending before the court and replaced  with another, a new charge has been filed, involving the following as the accused to be  prosecuted. They include Pathfinder International Limited, NAHCO Limited, Awonubi  Abayomi, Jennifer Eze, Lilian Anene, Glory Agu, Elizabeth Ahanaya, Chinwe Nwaobia, Bidemi  Ogunjobi, Taiwo Owologba and Innocent Ihemere.

The presiding judge, Justice Okon Abang, has adjourned till 16 November this year for the  substitution of the charge and continuation of the trial.