10th May, 2012
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on Thursday arraigned three bank staff, two civil servants and two companies before Justice Patrick Afen of the FCT High Court, Abuja on a three-count charge of fraud, conspiracy to commit fraud, forgery of public sector accounts and obtaining under false pretence to the tune of N25.4 million.
The accused persons, who allegedly defrauded Mrs. Juliet Uzor, are Napoleon Obaje Adofu, Branch Manager, Oceanic Bank, Karu; Augustine Odinawor, Branch Manager, Fidelity Bank Gwagwalada; Patrick Onyekachi, staff of Equitorial Trust Bank, Abuja; Reuben Omotayo, Staff of FCDA and Abdulmalik Isa Teina, staff of Abuja Geographic Information System, (AGIS).
They were arraigned alongside two companies: Yombor Ventures Limited and Aicoor Tao Nigeria Limited.
Soon after the three-count charge was read to the accused persons, they pleaded not guilty on all counts.
Defence counsel, Oluwafemi Adetusi, asked the court to grant his clients bail.
He asked the court to take into consideration the constitutional right of the accused persons based on the fact that they are still presumed innocent until proven guilty.
“My Lord, with this application, we are relying on the provisions of Section 35 (1) and Section 36 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. And also we base it on the jurisdiction of this court. We urge the court to grant our prayers by granting the accused persons bail. We also pray that the conditions will be on the most liberal term,” he said.
However, Salisu Majidadi, counsel to EFCC, told the court that he was only handed the bail application by the counsel to the second accused person in court and would need time to respond to the application.
Justice Afen told all defence counsel that he cannot consider oral bail applications for the accused persons.
In respect to the second accused person who had filed a formal application, Justice Afen said the prosecution by law has a forty-eight hour window to respond to it.
After listening to arguments on both sides, the judge ruled that applications for bail must be formal and will be ruled upon on Thursday 17 May , 2012.
The judge therefore directed that the accused persons be remanded in Kuje prison.
Trouble began for the bankers when a N25, 460,000 bank draft payable to Abuja Geographic Information Systems (AGIS) was handed to them and instead of paying the draft into the proper account, they allegedly conspired with their friends who are bankers to open a fake AGIS corporate account and paid the draft into it.
After the draft cleared, the accused persons then transferred the amount electronically to two company accounts from which they withdrew and shared the funds.