20th June, 2012
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has arraigned Mr. Michael Adewole, Branch Manager of Oceanic International Bank Plc, now Ecobank Plc, and four others before Justice A. I. Chikere of the Federal High Court sitting in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, southsouth Nigeria.
They were arraigned on a 20-count charge bordering on conspiracy, forgery, fraudulent conversion and non compliance with Know-Your -Customer, KYC, directive.
The other accused persons are Chief Patrick Eyo Ente, Chrysanctus B. Etteh, Chief Francis B. Ekpenyong, Chief Umana Etor Umana as well as the bank situated on 145 Ekot Ekpene Road , Uyo, Akwa Ibom State .
The accused persons pleaded not guilty to all the charges preferred against them, prompting the defence counsel, Francis Ekanem, Tajudeen Alade and Samuel Akpabio to immediately make an oral bail application, urging the court to allow the accused persons to continue to enjoy the administrative bail granted them by the EFCC.
While adjourning the case till 27 September, 2012 for trial, the judge ordered that the accused persons should continue to enjoy the administrative bail granted them by the EFCC.
They are however to report at the Akwa Ibom State Police headquarters every first Wednesday of the month.
The judge also added that the bail will be revoked should any of the accused persons fail to show up in court at any time during the trial.
Trouble started for the banker when he failed to comply with the account mandate of Okopedi Community (Okobo Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State), before transferring funds from the community’s account with the bank.
The petitioner alleged that in 2006, the Akwa Ibom State Government paid the sum of N44.6 million to indigenes of Okopedi Community as compensation for acquiring about 98% of their farmland for the purpose of the construction of the Akwa Ibom State International Airport .
The community’s Council of Chiefs and other stakeholders agreed to deposit the said amount in a fixed deposit account with Oceanic Bank Plc.
In addition, they nominated Chief Patrick Eyo Ente, Hon. Chrysanctus B. Etteh, Chief Francis B. Ekpenyong, Chief Umana Etor Umana, Mr. Michael E. Asiya and Mrs. Felicia Ibok Effiong as signatories to the account.
While opening the account, the community gave the bank a mandate that four out of the six signatories can withdraw money from the said account on behalf of the community, but that the bank must get confirmation from the Council of Chiefs of the community before approving any withdrawal.
But the bank ignored this mandate and used the community fund as collateral for a facility which it gave to four out of the six signatories namely: Chief Patrick Eyo Ente, Chrysanctus B. Etteh, Chief Francis B. Ekpenyong and Chief Umana Etor Umana.
Barrister Emmanuel Ekpenyong who wrote the bank on behalf of the community was shocked to discover that the Community had a credit balance of N208, 783.70 as at 30 September, 2010 without any explanation on how the withdrawals were made.
Further probe by the community into the matter revealed that Chief Patrick Eyo Ente, Hon.Chrysanctus B. Etteh, Chief Francis B. Ekpenyong and Chief Umana Etor Umana, submitted their names as Board of Trustees of Okopedi community without the knowledge and consent of Okopedi people and requested the bank to transfer the sum of N42 million through a Fund Transfer Mandate dated 28 January, 2008, from Okopedi Community account to the account of Maven Asset Management Limited, being their stock brokers.
The community immediately cried foul as they claimed that they never had any Board of Trustees and that they knew nothing about the existence of any Maven Asset Management Limited, and had no dealings with them.
In another development, the EFCC has docked11 suspects at a Federal High Court sitting in Benin City, Edo state on a four count charge bordering on conspiracy, illegal dealing and forgery.
The suspects: Mohammed Yusuf ; Adamu Mansur, Sani Rabiu, Murtala Mohammed, Yahaya Usman, Idris Abubakar, Yahaya Mohammad, Ibrahim Hassan, Hamisu Kamba, Aminu Ibrahim and Ibrahim Ahmed, were arraigned before Justice Adamu Hobon.
When the charges were read to the eleven suspects, they all pleaded not guilty to the charge.
The prosecuting counsel, Sa’ad Hanafi Sa’ad then asked the court to remand the accused persons in prison custody and fix a date for hearing.
However, the defence counsel immediately presented a formal bail application, and urged the court to admit the suspects to bail.
In his ruling, Justice Hobon, granted the accused persons bail in the sum of N600,000 each.
Each of the sureties must own a property in Benin City .
The case has been adjourned till 2 July, 2012 for continuation of trial.
The accused persons were arrested on 31 January, 2012 in Benin City by officers of the JTF Operation Thunderstorm, with two trucks loaded with suspected adulterated automotive gas oil