EFCC Arraigns Ex-Punch Director, Others Over N350m Fraud
The Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) on Wednesday arraigned a former executive director of the Punch Newspaper, Azubike Ishekwene and a businessman, Olalekan Abdul before the Lagos State Special Offences Court over alleged N350 million fraud.
The defendants were accused of forgery, conspiracy to forge, using false documents, making documents without authority and obtaining money by false pretence.
According to the anti-graft agency, the offences are contrary to sections 411, 365, 366 and 335 (2) of the criminal laws of Lagos state of Nigeria 2015.
While obtaining money by false pretence is contrary to section 1(1),(2) of the advance fee fraud and other related offences Act No.14 of 2006.
The EFCC prosecutor, Mohammed Idris told the court that the defendants used a false document titled “Board Resolution of Cleanserve Integrated Energy Solution Limited” dated 27th day of September 2010 to open an account with Keystone Bank PLC formerly known as Bank PHB as genuine.
The prosecutor alleged that the defendants with intent to defraud and obtain credit facility for Cleanserve Integrated Energy Solution in the sum of N350,000,000.00 by false pretence from Wema Bank by falsely representing to them that the “Board Resolution of Cleanserve Integrated Energy Solution” dated 14th December 2010 as genuine which representations they knew to be false.
The defendants, however, pleaded not guilty to the charge.
EFCC counsel Idris told the court in view of the plea of the defendants be remanded in prison custody.
However, Adeyinka Olumide-Fusika (SAN) counsel to Adewale urged the court to granted bail to his client.
Olumide-Fusika also clarified that the third defendant, Adewale was not on the run but was rather out of the country.
He also said, “The first defendant has been on administrative bail of the EFCC since 2018 and anytime he was invited to their office he never failed to honour their invitation.
“The interest at this stage is to ensure that the defendant comes for trial.
“We plea that he drops his international passport and if we can have a trial date for Friday, we will bring him to court. I undertake to also bring Adewale to court,” he said.
Mr Muiz Banire (SAN) the defence counsel, Ishekwene in his submission, asked the court to grant his client bail because the correctional facilities are congested.
“The maximum capacity of the prison is 800, as at today it is 3000,” Banire said.
Justice Dada granted their requests and granted bail to the defendants.
In granting the bail request, personal plea of the defence counsel on their attendance in court and the forfeiture of their international passports temporary bail has been granted therein for the hearing of the bail application.
Justice Dada then adjourned to January 31 for the continuation of trial.