An auto dealer, Sarumi Samusideen Babafemi, alleged to be an agent to the fraud suspects named by the United State Federal Investigation Bureau (FBI), has been arraigned before the Federal High Court, Lagos, over alleged N207.1 million fraud.
Babafemi was docked before Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke, by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) alongside his three companies: 606 Autos Limited, 606 Music Limited and Splash Off Entertainment Limited.
The defendants were charged on a five count-charge of transferring the said sums which were obtained under false pretence, to his principals.
In the charge marked FHC/L/374c/19, Babafemi also called 606, and his companies were alleges to have between 2013 and 2018 transferred the sum of N37.6 million to one Omojadesola Shittu Allison.
They were alleged to have between 2015 and 2018, transferred the sum of N93 million to one Olanrewaju Ibrahim Oriyomi and the sum of N1.5 million to one Abiola Kayode Ayorinde (a.k.a ABK).
EFCC also alleged that the defendants between 2015 and 2018, transferred the sum of N25 million and N50 million to the duo of Bartholomew Oluchukwu Ezeudoko and Amobi Uchenna E.
The offences according to the prosecutor, Mr. Anzelem Ozioko, are contrary to 15(2)(b) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011(As Amended) and Punishable under Section 15(3) of the Act.
However, the defendant and his companies pleaded not guilty to the charge.
Following the defendant’s not guilty plea, the prosecutor, Mr. Ozioko, urges the court to remand Babafemi in prison custody, till the determination of the charge against him and his companies.
But his legal team led by Mr. Muiz Banire (SAN) urged the court to grant their client bail in the most liberal term.
The defence team told the court that the charge had been formerly struck out for lack of diligent prosecution.
Responding, the EFCC counsel, Ozioko, through the agency’s counter affidavit, stated that sometime in 2017, the commission got an intelligence report from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) that the defendant, Sarumi Samsideen Babafemi was the head of a syndicate of money launderers and other alleged criminal activities.
Ozioko added that based on the report, the defendant was placed under surveillance until the EFCC had sufficient information concerning him consequent upon which a raid was conducted at number 57, Awolowo Road, Ikoyi Lagos where he was arrested along with his alleged syndicate members.
The prosecutor further stated that upon the defendant’s arrest, he volunteered his extra-judicial statements wherein he tried in vain to explain the numerous suspicious transactions involving him and other suspects who had been under the EFCC investigation.
That during investigation, it was revealed that the defendant was working hand-in- hand with the likes of Ridwan Momodu Allison (aka Osama), Omojadesola Shittu Allison, Olanrewaju Ibrahim Oriyomi, Abiola Kayode Ayorinde (aka ABK), Bartholomew Oluchukwu and Amobi Uchenna E, whose names featured prominently in the FBI investigation tagged “Operation wire wire.”
The prosecutor states that the defendant also had another criminal matter pending before Justice (Prof) Chuka Obiozor in another criminal matter number FHC/L/144C/2019 and that one of the members of the alleged criminal scheme had been convicted by Justice Liman in case number FHC/L/94/2019 for transaction with the defendant without proper identification of the defendant and other customers.
Ozioko told the court that the defendant upon his arrest, was initially admitted to administrative bail by the commission and he absconded and was never reached and that was why he was re-arrested and his bail revoked and was further detained. He added that his international passport was collected from him after he was re-arrested so that he would not abscond again.
Ozioko urged the court not to grant the bail application as the defendant is ‘a flight risk’, who would not come for his trial, and might likely interfere with investigation if he was granted bail.
Justice Aneke, after taking argument on the defendant’s bail application, adjourned till Monday, November 4, for ruling.