From Geoffrey Anyanwu, Enugu
The Managing Director of an Enugu based firm, “Let’s Partner With You”, Patrick Nwokike and his wife, Mrs Rosemary Nwokike, have been discharged and acquitted by an Enugu Federal High Court of allegations of operating a wonder bank.
Their freedom came about four years after the couple alongside their Limited Liability Company, ‘Let’s Partner With You,’ were arraigned on November 15, 2016, on a four-count charge bordering on the alleged operation of banking business without a valid license.
But the court presided over by Justice RO Dugbo-Oghoghorie held that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) failed woefully to prove its case against the couple and their firm.
In a 143-paged judgment, Justice Dugbo-Oghoghorie said that in criminal proceedings, the burden lies on the prosecution to prove its case beyond all reasonable doubt as against beyond every shadow of a doubt.
He resolved all the issues on a four-count charge preferred against the defendants by the EFCC in favour of the defendants.
The offence which they were charged was said to be contrary to Sect. 2(1) and 49(1) of the Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act, CAP B3, Laws of the Federation, 2004 and punishable under Sect. 2(2) of the same Act.
They were also accused of inviting the public through advertisement to deposit money with them without authorization contrary to Sect. 44(1) of the Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act, CAP B3, Laws of the Federation, 2004, which is punishable under Sect. 44(2) of the same Act.
But the court in its judgment held that none of the witnesses presented by the prosecution was able to establish that the defendants were either operating a banking business or invited the public to deposit money.
The judge said: ‘The law provides that for a business to constitute banking business by receiving deposits, the cash deposit must have been received on the current account, savings account or other similar accounts.
‘As regards counts one and two of the charge, the business of the defendants is not banking business as provided for under the laws upon which they are charged.
‘On counts three and four, the prosecution learned counsel has failed to provide cogent and compelling evidence for this court to hold that the defendants made advertisements for the public to deposit cash on the current account, savings account or other similar accounts.’