7th October, 2010
A criminal charge of money laundering filed against a Lagos businessman, Prince Orji ChuÂ Ikem, who lost N244,500,000 duringÂ a business trip to China, is to be withdrawn by theÂ Nigerian police.
Also facing criminal charges of Advance Fee Fraud are two companies, PathfinderÂ International Limited, NAHCO Management and eight of their staff namely, Awonubi OlusegunÂ Abayomi, Jenifer Eze, Adenike Sobogun, Adeyinka Adegbesan, Abioye Yusuf, Bukky Adeyemo,Â Ige Ekundayo and Williams Omotayo.
What led to the criminal charges started sometimes in December, 2007, when Prince OrjiÂ Chu Ikem was about to go to China to buy some goods and some of his business associatesÂ who wanted him to help them buy some goods also contributed money which was given to himÂ including his own money, totalling $1,630,000.
However, some officials of Emirate Airlines promised to assist him to travel with theÂ money and consequently, it was packed in four bags, two of which were to be taken intoÂ 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 himÂ and was forced to disclose the content of his bag. He was then told it was illegal toÂ carry such amount of money as hand luggage and promised to deliver the bags to him onÂ getting to China.
On arrival in China, however, the bags were nowhere to be found and the owner wasÂ referred to Emirate Airlines office in that country, who confirmed that the bags were notÂ loaded while the remaining two were marked rejected.
He came back to Nigeria for further enquiry as he lodged formal complaint at the EmirateÂ Airlines office and when there was no clue as to what happened to the bags, the matterÂ was reported at the Special Fraud Unit of the Federal Criminal Investigation Department,Â Alagbon, Ikoyi, Lagos.
The Nigerian police swung into action and on investigation, some officials ofÂ EmirateÂ Airlines were recommended for criminal prosecution after which another criminal chargeÂ 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 asÂ the first accused.
Meanwhile, the office of the Attorney General of the Federation has taken over theÂ prosecution of the accused persons.
However, in a bid to withdraw the current charge pending before the court and replacedÂ with another, a new charge has been filed, involving the following as the accused to beÂ prosecuted. They include Pathfinder International Limited, NAHCO Limited, AwonubiÂ Abayomi, Jennifer Eze, Lilian Anene, Glory Agu, Elizabeth Ahanaya, Chinwe Nwaobia, BidemiÂ Ogunjobi, Taiwo Owologba and Innocent Ihemere.
The presiding judge, Justice Okon Abang, has adjourned till 16 November this year for theÂ substitution of the charge and continuation of the trial.