27th June, 2022
By Adenike Ayodele
An Ikeja High Court on Monday convicted a Lagos based lawyer, Stella Achebe and her company, Infinite Favour Nigeria Ltd., for issuing N10 million dud cheque to a man.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Justice Sodetan Ogunsanya found Achebe guilty as charged and deferred her sentencing until the defendant was produced.
“It is clear that the defendant has jumped bail and all efforts by her counsel to locate her has proved abortive.
“Delay in the judgement was due to the deliberate and willful refusal of the defendant to show face in court.
“The prosecution through its witnesses and documents tendered, proved by cogent, credible and convincing evidence beyond every reasonable doubt all the charges filed against her.
“The court found the defendant and her company guilty as charged. I hereby adjourn sentencing until when the defendant is produced,” Ogunsanya said.
NAN reports that the defence counsel, Mr O.S. Ahmed, on Monday told the court that the defendant could still not be located.
The economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had arraigned Achebe on amended four-count charge dated Feb. 27, 2015.
The charge bordered on insurance of dud cheque and obtaining money under false pretences.
One of the charges reads: “Stella Achebe and Infinite Favour Nigeria Ltd. sometimes in April, 2013, at Lagos, within the Ikeja Judicial Division knowingly issued a Diamond Bank cheque dated April 30, 2013, for the sum of N10 million only payable to Leinadibanie Nigeria Ltd., through its Director, Daniel Ebinoh.
“Which when presented for payment within three months of issuance was dishonoured on the grounds that no funds or insufficient funds were standing to your credit in the account at the bank on which the cheque was drawn.”
Another charge reads: “Stella Achebe, sometime in 2012 in Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court by false pretence fraudulently obtained the sum of N20,950,000 credit for yourself and Infinite Favour Nigeria Ltd from Leinadibanie Nigeria Ltd., through its Director, Daniel Ebinoh and thereby incurred a debt or liability to Leinadibanie Nigeria Ltd. in the said sum of money.”
The EFCC counsel, G.C. Akaogu, had called four witnesses and tendered several documentary evidences to prove the case against the defendants.
The prosecution through the witnesses revealed that the defendant had only N3.1 million in her account as at the time she issued the cheque for the said amount.
The prosecution also submitted evidence to prove that the defendant obtained the said money by false pretence as she was not into oil and gas business as she claimed.
The defendant, who said she was a lawyer called to the Nigeria Bar in 2002, also took to the dock to defend herself, claiming that she was into oil and gas business.
She had claimed that the money obtained from the complainant who petitioned the EFCC was for the supply of AGO from MRS.
However, in the course of the continuation of trial, the defendant stopped coming to court.
On Feb. 27, 2019, when parties adopted their written addresses, the court, following an application by the prosecution, revoked the bail of the defendant and declared her wanted.
The court issued a bench warrant for her arrest which prompted the adjournment of judgement in the case.
The offences violated Section 1(1)(b) of the Dishonoured Cheques (Offences) Act 2004 and Section 313(1)(a) of the Criminal Law of Lagos State 2011.