Lawyer Arraigned Over N36m Theft

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A legal practitioner, Mr. Odi Okereke Ajike has been arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission , EFCC, before a Lagos High Court, Ikeja for allegedly stealing N36 million from his colleague Barrister Emeka Nwajiuba.

Ajike was also alleged to have issued a dud cheque valued at N4 million with intent to defraud Emeka Nwajiuba.

The lawyer was arraigned on a three-count charge of stealing, fraud and fraudulent conversion of the money said to have been entrusted in his care and that of his company, Natuzzi Nigeria Limited by Emeka Nwajiuba for safe keeping.

The EFCC accused the lawyer and Natuzzi Nigeria Limited of conspiracy to steal contrary to section 516 of the Criminal Code Cap C17, Vol 2 Laws of Lagos State of Nigeria 2003.

Ajike was also alleged to have, with intent to defraud and steal, fraudulently converted the N36 million through his Diamond Bank account at Victoria Island.

The offence was said to have been committed contrary to section 8 (b) and (c) of the Criminal Code Law Cap C 17 Laws of Lagos State of Nigeria 2003.

EFCC alleged that the accused person issued the N4 million cheque to Emeka Nwajiuba knowing he has insufficient fund in his account.

The agency said that the issuance of the dud cheque was contrary to section (1) (1) of the Dishonored Cheque Act, Cap D11 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.

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The accused person pleaded not guilty to the three-count charge.

Counsel to the EFCC, Mr. Collins Ugwu, applied to the court presided over by Justice Lateefa Okunnu for a trial date and for the accused person to be remanded in prison custody in view of his not guilty plea.

Counsel to the accused person, Mr. U.C. Ukebule however pleaded that the court should use its discretion by remanding the accused person in the custody of EFCC pending trial.

Ukebelu who told the court that he had filed the necessary application for bail also applied for bail for his client.

Justice Okunnu in her ruling said the accused person be kept in prison custody in line with the due process of the law.

Justice Okunnu thereafter fixed 1 June, 2012 for argument on bail for the accused and 18 September , 2012 for commencement of trial.

By Henry Ojelu