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Court Remands Ecobank Manager In Prison For N411million Fraud



A Federal High Court in Ikoyi, Lagos, has ordered the remand of Ifeanyi Chukwu Azike, a manager of Ecobank Plc, over allegations of defrauding one of the bank’s customers to the tune of N411million.

Azike was arraigned before Justice Ayotunde Faji on Tuesday, by the Special Fraud Unit (SFU) of the Nigeria Police Force on a three-count charge bordering on obtaining money under false pretences, false representation and fraud.

The charge signed by ASP Daniel Aporchi, marked FHC/L/56c/2019, alleged that the Ecobank manager, fraudulently obtained the sum of N150million from one Okafor Ikenna Kelvin, owner of the bank account number, 0533010936.

Azike allegedly received the money between 2016 and 2017, under the pretext of buying the customer a Federal Government Treasury Bill in his bank.

Azike was also alleged to have forged the bank customer’s signature and a letter of instruction, which he used to open another parallel account as Ikenna Okafor Kelvin, with account number: 5333063028.

The Police also alleged that the bank manager, without the consent of the bank, fraudulently converted the sum of N411million belonging to the customer, to his personal use.

The offences, according to the prosecutor, Daniel Apochi, contradicts the provision of Section 1(1)(a), 15(1)(2) and 15(2) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act No. 14 of 2006, and punishable under Section 1(3) of the same Act.

The offence is also said to be contrary to the provisions of section 1(2)(2) of the miscellaneous Act. Cap. M17, laws of the federation of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).

The charge sheet, sighted by SaharaReporters, read: “That you lfeanyi Chukwu Azike ‘M’ sometime in 2016 and 2017, in Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this Federal High Court with intent to defraud, obtained the sum of N150,000,000.00 (One Hundred and Fifty Million Naira) from Mr Okafor Ikenna Kelvin, a customer of Ecobank Plc with Account No: 533010936 from your employer, by falsely representing to him that you are going to purchase Federal Government Treasury Bill in Ecobank Nigeria Plc for him as Bank Manager, which representation you knew to be false or did not believe to be true and by this conduct, you thereby committed an offence, contrary to Section 1(1)(a) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act No. 14 6V2006, but punishable under Section 1 (3) of the same Act.

“That you Ifeanyi Chukwu Azike ’M’ sometime between 2016 and 2017, in Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this Federal High Court did forge Signature, Picture, Letter of Instruction to open another parallel account as Ikenna Okafor Kelvin, account number: 5333063028, knowing it to be false or with intent that it may in anyway be used or acted upon as genuine, whether in Nigeria or elsewhere to the prejudice of Ikenna Okafor Kelvin and Ecobank Plc your employer, you thereby committed an offence, contrary to Section 1(2)(c) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act, CAP M17 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).

“That you Ifeanyi Chukwu Azike ’M’ on or about 2016 and 2017, in Lagos, within the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court, did fraudulent convert to your use the sum of N411,000,000.00 (four hundred and eleven million Naira) being money fraudulently withdraw from your employer bank without their consent, and customer of your bank, Ecobank Plc for enabling you invest on behalf of the Customer, which you failed to deliver with the aim of converting the illicit origin of the resources and you thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 15(1)(2) and 15(2) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011.”

The defendant pleaded not guilty to the charge.

Following his plea of not guilty, the prosecutor urged the court to remand him in prison custody pending trial.

Consequently, Justice Faji ordered that the defendant be remanded in prison custody, while he adjourned till March 8, for trial.

The judge also fixed the date for hearing of his bail application.

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Easter: FAAN assures Nigerians of safety

The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) has assured passengers and other airport users of safety during the Easter celebration.

FAAN gave the assurance in a statement signed by its General Manager, Corporate Affairs, Mrs Henrietta Yakubu, in Lagos on Wednesday, NAN reports.

Yakubu noted that all necessary facilities, infrastructure and manpower had been deployed to ensure seamless facilitation at the airports.

She added that the relevant security agencies had been mobilised to beef up security at all airports during the period.

Yakubu also advised intending travelers to endeavour to leave for the airport early enough, so as to ensure that check-in formalities are conducted in good time.

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Court takes decision on sale of 9mobile

A Federal High Court in Ikoyi, Lagos, on Wednesday dismissed a suit filed by Spectrum Wireless Communications Limited against Emerging Markets Telecommunications Services (EMTS), owners of 9mobile, challenging the sale of the company.

NAN reports that the court, Presided over by Justice CJ Aneke, in a ruling on the preliminary objections filed by counsel to EMTS, upheld that the defendant’s prayers in Suit No. FHC/L/CS/153/2018 that there was no direct shareholding relationship between Spectrum Wireless and EMTS, thereby vesting on Spectrum the right to sue EMTS to protect its alleged shareholding in EMTS.
The Court also upheld the defendant’s position that there was no privity of contract between EMTS and Spectrum as Spectrum was not a shareholder in EMTS and could not be said to have been directly affected by the actions of its shareholders – Mubadala Holdings Cyprus Ltd, Myacynth and Etisalat International Nigeria Ltd.

The court further upheld the defendant’s position that if at Spectrum had a right of action, its action should be against PTHNV, the company it originally invested in and not EMTS.

The court, therefore, upheld the submission of counsel to EMTS that not being a shareholder of EMTS, Spectrum lacked the locus standi to bring the suit against EMTS on the basis of any decision taken by the shareholders of EMTS.

The court, therefore, upheld the defendant’s prayers saying that Spectrum lacked the locus standi to sue, adding that the concept of “indirect shareholding/economic interest” claimed by Spectrum was unknown to Nigerian law, which only recognized members of a company as those named in its Register of Members.

Justice Aneke also held that Spectrum is not a party to the credit facilities which it claimed were unlawfully obtained, and its elementary law that only parties to a contract can make judicial claims in respect thereof.

The court, therefore, dismissed the suit in its entirety.

In his reaction to the ruling, the Company Secretary/Legal Adviser, 9mobile, Ore Olajide, said “this was victory for democracy, victory for the rule of law in Nigeria, victory for company law, victory for legal practitioners, victory for corporate lawyers, academia and students of law.

“9mobile will continue to focus on satisfying our numerous customers and stakeholders who have faith in us and have stayed the course with us”.

It is recalled that Spectrum Wireless Communications sued EMTS and 16 other defendants including United Capital Trustees Limited (‘the Lenders’), the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) over the sale of the telco.

The company claimed that it acquired indirect holding of 30 per cent of the shares of EMTS after a private placement and was allotted 4,041,096 Class A shares of Premium Telecommunications Holdings NV (“PTHNV”) which owns 99% of the shares in MyaCynth Coperative UA (“MyaCynth”).

The plaintiff also claimed that MyaCynth holds 30 per cent of the shares of EMTS BV
and EMTS BV, holds 99.9 per cent of the shares of EMTS and that EMTS’ syndicated loan from the 2nd to 4th defendant’s and was granted without the requisite statutory approval of the CBN, and can, therefore, not be enforced through the sale of EMTS’ shares and assets by the 2nd to the 14th defendants.

Spectrum also claimed that its investments in EMTS would be lost if 15th to 17th defendants were allowed to effect the sale of EMTS.

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FG moves to have Innoson boss arrested

The Federal Government, on Monday urged the Federal High Court in Lagos to issue a bench warrant against Innoson Nigeria Limited’s chairman Mr. Innocent Chukwuma and some of his employees.

They were charged in a fraud case before Justice Ayokunle Faji.

The Police had earlier charged them with an alleged N2.4billion shipping fraud, but the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), later took over the case.

Others named in the charge are Charles Chukwuma, Maximian Chukwura, Mitsui Osk Lines and Anajekwu Sunny.

The prosecution is praying the court to order the arrest of Innoson Motors Chairman and his staff for failing to turn up to take their plea in the criminal charge.

On Monday, Chukwuma and his staff were absent in court.

Prosecuting Counsel Mr. Julius Ajakaiye moved an application urging the court to order the absent defendants’ arrested.

He said the charge was served on them through a court-ordered February 8, 2016 substituted service following the AGF’s take-over of the case.

Consequently, he said the defendants were yet to take their plea and should therefore be compelled to appear.

He added that an April 12, 2016 amended charge could not be served on the absent defendants.

Ajakaiye urged the court to grant his application by ordering their arrest.

But defence counsel Chief George Uwechue (SAN) and Prof. C. Mbadugha prayed the court to dismiss the application.

They argued that the court lacked jurisdiction to issue the warrant against the defendants “because they were not properly summoned before the court”.

They said the application offends Order 6 of the Federal High Court Civil Procedure Rules, adding that there was no proper service on their clients.

Justice Faji adjourned until July 3 for ruling.

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