EFCC Arraigns Oil Magnate for Alleged ₦24.3million Fraud, Fake Surety in Port Harcourt
By Adedeji ADEMUYIWA
Nigeria - The Port Harcourt's Zonal Command of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has arraigned an oil magnate, Azubuike Uzoma before Justice A.T. Mohammed of the Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, over an alleged illegal dealing in petroleum products to the tune of ₦24, 310,000 (Twenty Four Million, Three Hundred and Ten Thousand Naira).
Uzoma was arraigned on October 25, 2023 on three-count charges bordering on money laundering and illegal dealing in petroleum products.
One of the count charges against him reads: "That you, Azubuike Uzoma (Trading under the name & style of ALVIN D INTERNATIONAL) sometimes in June, 2022 within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court took possession of the aggregate sum of N23,310,000.00 (Twenty Three Million, Three Hundred and Ten Thousand Naira) paid into your account with Keystone Bank Limited, when you reasonably ought to have known that the said fund formed part of the proceeds of an unlawful activity, to wit: Illegal dealing in petroleum products and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 18(2)(d) of the Money Laundering Act".
He pleaded not guilty to the charges when they were read to him and in view of his plea, prosecution counsel Abdulrahman Abubakar, prayed the court to fix a date for trial and for the defendant to be remanded in a Correctional Service. Counsel to the defendant, C .J. Nmerem, did not oppose the prayers of the prosecution, but urged the court to grant his client bail to enable him prepare for his trial.
Justice Mohammed thereafter granted the defendant bail in the sum of ₦1,000,000.00 (One Million Naira), and two sureties in like sum, adding, one of the sureties must be a civil servant with the Rivers State government not below grade level 14, and the other surety shall be a family member of the defendant.
The sureties, the judge said must deposit two recent passport photographs with the court and must have verifiable addresses, and subsequently adjourned the matter till January 22, 2024 for commencement of trial.
Azubuike’s case, as confirmed by the EFCC spokesman, Dele Oyewale started when operatives of the Commission arrested him at Ndoni Community of Onelga Local Government Area of Rivers State for alleged illegal dealing in petroleum products and money laundering.
Investigations, he stated, showed that the defendant is into a fraudulent oil business by defrauding his clients into paying several amounts of money for the supply of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) from Warri depot. He neither supplied the products nor returned the clients’ money to them.
Similarly, the Port Harcourt Zonal Command of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC on October 31, 2023 arraigned one Emmanuel Sanikpege before Justice P.I. Ajoku, of the Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State for forging a letter of attestation and presenting himself as a surety to bail one Umor Bright, a suspect under investigation by the EFCC.
Sanikpege was arraigned on two- count charges bordering on forgery, contrary to Section 1(2) (c) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act (CAP M17 of the Revised Edition (Laws of the Federation of Nigeria) 2007 and punishable under Section 1 (2) of the same Act.
One of the count charges reads: "That you Emmanuel Sanikpege on or about the 22nd day of August, 2022, at Port Harcourt, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court did make a forged document to wit: LETTER OF ATTESTATION RE: Emanuel Sanikpege purportedly from Government Senior Secondary School, Oyigbo, Rivers State, a document which you knew was forged; with intent that the document be acted upon by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, as original and genuine; and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 1(2) (c) of the of the Miscellaneous Offences Act (CAP M17 of the Revised Edition (Laws of the Federation of Nigeria) 2007 and punishable under Section 1 (2) of the same Act".
The defendant pleaded "not guilty" when the charges were read to him and in view of his plea, prosecution counsel, B. O. Agala prayed the court to fix a date for commencement of trial.
Meanwhile, defence counsel, T. Musa informed the court of a pending application to bail his client. He urged the court to grant the defendant bail to enable him to prepare for his trial.
Justice Ajoku thereafter granted the defendant bail in the sum of ₦1, l000,000.00 (One Million Naira) and two sureties in like sum. He added, the sureties must be civil servants with Rivers State Government or Federal Government of Nigeria.
The sureties, the judge stated further must also be on grade level 12 and above and must own a landed property in Port Harcourt with certificates of occupancy to be deposited with the court.
Also, the sureties, he ordered should deposit two recent passport photographs each, or any means of identification with the court registry.
The judge further ruled that the verification of the sureties be carried out by the EFCC.
He adjourned the matter to March 12, 2024 for commencement of trial and remanded the defendant in the Port Harcourt Correctional Service.
Sanikpege was arrested by the Commission in August, 2022 for alleged forgery.
He allegedly presented himself as a surety for the bail of one Umor Bright, a suspect under investigation by the EFCC.
To meet the bail conditions, Sanikpege purportedly forged and submitted a fake letter of attestation with a fake signature signed by the principal of Government Senior Secondary School, Oyigbo, Port Harcourt.
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