Godwin Tsa, Abuja
A High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) has remanded five bank officials to prison custody over an alleged N85 million scam.
They were arraigned on Thursday before Justice Peter Affen by the Abuja Command of the Nigeria Police over allegations bordering on criminal breach of trust, forgery and cheating.
Those docked were Blessing Oyelowo, Justina Okey-Meka a staff of Fidelity Bank plc, Adeniyi Adeniran, Njoku Uchechukwu, Fidelity Bank plc, Prudential Steps LS Nigeria Ltd and others now at large.
They were arraigned on a 5-count charge in a suit marked FHC/CR/894, dated July 3, 2019.
Meanwhile, after hearing the defendants’ bail application, Justice Affen ordered that the accused persons be remanded in Suleja prison pending when they will perfect their bail conditions.
The court granted the accused persons bail in the sum of N86m each, each with two sureties in like sum.
One of the sureties must be a public servant or retired from civil service with valid documents of status.
The sureties must submit two passports, sworn affidavits tendered, duly signed by them; in the event the defendants escape, the sureties will pay the N86m.
In addition, one of the sureties must be resident in Abuja, and must tender title deed of landed property worth N86m to the court registrar.
More so, the court held that the defence counsel must recommend each of the sureties just as Justice Affen ordered that the defendants must tender their international passports.
Consequently, the court directed that the defendants be remanded in Suleja prison pending the perfection of their bail condition.
The charge stated that Triple C Motors Nigeria Ltd, acting through its Managing Director, Dr. Adamu Kukuri, had entrusted the defendants with one Sienna, one Toyota Camry, two Toyota Prado Jeeps, two Honda and one Toyota Corolla vehicles valued at N86,000,000 but some of the vehicles were “dishonestly converted to your personal use and sold the rest vehicles to different buyers and also converted the proceed; you thereby committed the offence of Criminal Breach of Trust contrary to Section 312 of the Panel Code.”
The defendants were also accused of committing the offence of cheating when they “fraudulently and dishonestly induced Triple C Motors Nigeria Ltd through the Managing Director, Dr. Adamu Kukuri, by presenting forged Fidelity Bank Plc letter of block fund/irrevocable standing order dated 20th December, 2018, which made him deliver to you one Sienna, one Toyota Camry, two Toyota Prado Jeep, two Honda and one Toyota Corolla vehicles valued at N86,000,000.
By converting them and by using some and selling some to different buyers, the police said the defendants had committed the offence of cheating contrary to Section 322 of the penal code.
Among other allegations, the police charged the defendants for forging Fidelity Bank Plc letter of “block fund/ irrevocable standing order” letter dated 20th December, 2018, duly signed by Justina Okey-Meka; Fidelity Bank Identity/complimentary card bearing the name of Adeniyi Adeniran, Uchechukwu Njoku and a local purchase order LPO which were presented to the Managing Director of Triple C Motors Nigeria Limited, Dr. Adamu Kukuri.
According to the charge, the forged items caused Kukuri to deliver one Sienna, one Toyota Camry, two Toyota Prado, two Honda and one Toyota Corolla vehicles valued at N86,000,000 to the defendants.
By their action, the police stated that they committed an offence of forgery contrary to Section 363 of the Penal Code.
At the trial of the defendants, the prosecution counsel, Patrick Ogele, disclosed that he intended to tender the following exhibits to prove his case against the defendants.
They include statements of witnesses, statements of defendants, letter of block/irrevocable standing order (forged) from Fidelity Bank Plc, forged Fidelity Bank identity/complimentary cards, forged local purchase order (LPO), search warrants, bank account documents/statement, investigation activities, vehicle delivery documents etc.
Earlier, the prosecuting counsel drew the court’s attention to the absence of the 6the defendant, Fidelity Bank Plc, despite the fact that they had been duly served the hearing notice in the matter.
In urging the court to try the bank in absentia, Mr. Ogele cited Section 478 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015, to buttress his argument.
According to his submission, where a corporation fails to appear in court to take its plea, the court shall enter a not-guilty-plea on the corporation’s behalf and continue with the trial.
The application to try the defendants in absence of the 6th defendant was granted.