Rose Ejembi, Makurdi
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Makurdi zonal office, on Thursday arraigned four persons on a two-count charge for possessing and altering two counterfeit fifty dollars ($50) United States’ currency notes.
The suspects, including Otene Paul Olafikwu, John Garba Aondohemba, Simon Atsen Gbagir and Janet Tyondugh, were arraigned before Justice Mobolaji Olajuwon sitting at the Federal High Court, Makurdi, Benue State.
According to the charge, the defendants, “sometime in 2019 in Makurdi, Benue State within the jurisdiction of this honourable Court, did alter two $50 US notes bearing serial No. B121997021C and B121997020C knowing same to be counterfeit bank currency notes and thereby committed an offence contrary to section 5(1)(a) and punishable under section 5 of the Counterfeit Currency (Special Prohibition) Act CAP. C35 LFN 2004.”
All the defendants pleaded not guilty when the charge was read to them. Prosecution counsel G G Chia-Yakua asked for a trial date and urged the Court to remand the accused in a correctional centre.
Chia-Yakua informed the court that the first defendant, Simon Atsen Gbagir, had made application to the Commission to enter into a plea bargain agreement which they are still working on.
On his part, counsel to the first defendant, I M Mari made an oral application for bail on behalf of his client on liberal terms.
Also, the counsel to second, third and fourth defendants, E I Laren, who came with a summons for bail on behalf of his clients, prayed the court to admit them to bail pending the final determination of the case against them.
Justice Olajuwon granted bail to each of the defendants in the sum of N500,000 with one surety in like sum, adding that the surety must be close relations to defendants, show evidence of tax payments and must deposit two passport photographs with the Court
Justice Olajuwon adjourned the case till February 11 for mention even as the suspects were remanded in EFCC custody pending the perfection of their bail condition.