A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, yesterday ordered United Bank for Africa (UBA), First City Monument Bank and FCMB, to appear before it to explain their roles in an alleged N131.2 million fraud charge.
Justice Hadiza Rabiu-Shagari, gave the order during the trial of four accused persons, who were arraigned before her court by the Force Criminal Intelligence and Investigation Department (FCIID), Alagbon-Ikoyi, Lagos.
The four accused persons are: Honourable Anthony Alaka, (a.k.a General, a former member of the House of Representatives, representing Eti-Osa Federal Constituency, Saidi Oke, Bashir Mohammed: and Alhaji Umar Ali.
The four accused persons were arraigned on charges bordering on conspiracy and fraud to the tune of N131. 2 million.
Also charged with the accused persons are two firms: Grantland Investment Nigeria Limited and Abroad Development Foundation.
At the resumed trial of the accused persons today, the fraud victim, Austin Albert Ugochukwu, had informed the court the the suspected fraudsters, carried out the alleged act through the three banks.
Consequently, the prosecutor, Dr. Iman E., asked the court to summon the banks so that they can come and explain their roles in the alleged alleged fraud.
Upon the request of the prosecutor, Justice Rabiu-Shagari, summoned the banks and ordered that hearing notice should issue to them.
Narrating his ordeal before the court, the fraud victim, Ugochukwu, told the court how each of the accused persons induced him to give them the sum of N350 million in exchange for $1 million, and how they reneged only to give him $29, 900, 000 USD.
In his evidence before the court, the victim said: “I transferred the sum of N350 million from my Bank account, to Grantland Investment Nigeria Limited, domiciled in UBA and FCMB, belonging to Alhaji Umar (fourth defendant), from my account. And since the money was paid, the fourth defendant refused to pick my calls, it was then I told my account officer to place post-no-debit order on the account, so that they would not be able to access the money.
“I was surprised, when the fourth defendant who have not being picking my calls, quickly called and said he was with the General (first accused) and was confirming the Dollars cash, and wanted to transfer the N350 million into the account of Grantland investment Limited, before General will allow him to bring the $1 million to me, but my account has been restricted, and told me to lift the restriction, so that he can come to me with the dollars”.
Ugochukwu said he refused the fourth accused person plea, but later yielded due to the intervention of one Dr. Cyraicus Anyawu, who is now at large, whom he said convinced him in Ibo language, and that he later called his account officer to lift the restriction.
He also told the court that after he lifted the restriction on his account, the second accused, Saidi Oke, only came to him with $29,199, USD, and promised to come on the next day with the balance of $ 870,100, USD, but to his surprise, the second accused called and told him that he was at the Ikoyi office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), where a petition was written against him and seller of the Dollars.
Ugochukwu further told the court that while the other accused were arrested except first accused, they told him that he had been defrauded and he collapsed upon hearing that, and that when he regained his consciousness, they told him to withdraw the matter if he wanted to get his money back.
He also told the court how the men of Inspector-General of Police Monitoring Team (IGP monitoring) mounted pressure on the Area ‘J’ Command, Lagos, to transfer the matter to them in order to frustrate it. But added that the first accused, Honourable Alaka, who had been elusive while the case was in Lagos, was arrested.
Meanwhile, the presiding judge, Justice Rabiu-Shagari, adjourned the matter till tomorrow for continuation of trial of the accused persons.
The court also renewed its earlier bench warrant issued against Dr. Chukwuemeka Cyraicus Anyanwu, 50: Agboola Rasheed Gbade, 67: Nkechi Nwafor, 43: and Larry Balogun Otunba, 51, who were also mentioned in the charge.
The police in the amended charge marked FHC/L/327c/2017, alleged that the four suspects and others now at large, had on June 15, 2017, at Lekki area of Lagos State, conspired among themselves to obtain the sum of N312.2 million part of N359 million, from Austin Albert, under false pretence of selling to the complaint $1 million USD.
The police also alleged that the four after fraudulently received the money from the victim, converted same to their personal use.
The offences according to the prosecution, are contrary to sections 8(b) and 1(3) and punishable under sections 1(3) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Related Offences Act, 2006.
All the accused however pleaded not guilty to the charge.