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EFCC re-arraigns lovers for alleged N17.5m charcoal fraud

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The Ibadan zonal office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on Wednesday, re-arraigned one Alice Peace John, alongside her boyfriend, Fadi Alloush before Justice Bayo Taiwo of the Oyo State High Court, Ibadan for fraud in the sale of charcoal.

The duo were dragged to the court on three-count charges of conspiracy, stealing and obtaining the sum of N17, 500, 000.00 (Seventeen Million, Five Hundred Thousand Naira only) under false pretences.

One of the charges read, “That you Fadi Alloush and Alice Peace John between the 18th October, 2019 and 23rd December, 2019 at Ibadan, within Ibadan Judicial Division of this honourable court, did commit an illegal act to wit: stealing of the sum of N17,500,000 (Seventeen Million and Five Hundred Thousand Naira only) , property of Coco-Dor Nigeria Limited and Houssam Nasreddine.”

The offence is contrary to Section 390 of the Criminal Code Laws, Cap 38, Laws of Oyo State.

The defendants pleaded not guilty to the charges, following which prosecution counsel, Dr. Ben Ubi, applied for a trial date, while defence counsel, Olukunle Kamisi prayed the court to allow the bail earlier granted the defendants subsist.

Justice Taiwo granted the defendants’ prayer.

According to the judge, “The bail shall subsist and that in the event where there is delay on the defendants’ part, their bail will be revoked.” He adjourned the matter till October 8, 2020 for trial.

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It could be recalled that the defendants were initially arraigned before Justice Iyabo Yerima of the Oyo State High Court on March 17, 2020 but had to be re-arraigned on Wednesday following the reassignment of the case to Justice Taiwo.

The defendants’ journey to the dock stretched from January to December 2019, when the victim, Houssam Nasreddine transferred a total sum of N17, 500, 000.00 to the account of the first defendant, John, for the purchase of charcoal from Iwere lle, Oyo State for export, which the defendant bought and loaded in containers at the Hapag LLOYD Shipping Company, Apapa, Lagos for exportation, but rather than sell the goods in the name of the rightful owner, she allegedly connived with her boyfriend, Alloush and transferred the ownership of the goods and sold them off.
The petitioner added that all efforts he made to retrieve either the charcoal or his money were frustrated by the defendants.

 

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Crime & Court

Convicted Abeokuta Yahoo Boys to Refund $ 6,100 to Victims

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Ibadan Zonal Office on Tuesday secured the conviction of four internet fraudsters before Justice Mohammed Abubakar of a Federal High Court sitting in Abeokuta, Ogun State.

The quartet are Olawale Ibrahim Damilare, Goodluck Sambo Olatayo, Mathew Anuoluwapo Awoniyi and Samson Olawale Ayomide.

They pleaded guilty to one-count amended charge of fraudulent Impersonation. The offence is contrary to Section 22 (2) (b) 1 and punishable under Section 22 (2)(b) of Cybercrimes (Prohibition, Prevention, Etc) Act 2015.

In view of their ‘guilty’ plea, the prosecution counsel, Oyelakin Oyediran, reviewed the case and urged the Court to convict the defendants accordingly.

Justice Abubakar convicted and sentenced Olawale Ibrahim Damilare and Goodluck Sambo Olatayo to three months and four months imprisonment respectively, while Matthew Anuoluwapo Awoniyi and Samson Olawale Ayomide were also convicted and sentenced to seven and eight months respectively.

Justice Abubakar ordered the convicts to refund various sums to their victims: Olawale, $1,500 (One Thousand Five Hundred United States Dollars); Olatayo, $500 (Five Hundred United States Dollars); Awoniyi, $100 USD and Two Hundred and Thirty Two Thousand Naira (N232, 000) and Ayomide, $4,000 (Four Thousand United States Dollars).

 

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Oyo tailor assaulted by DPO gets justice

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Months after he was assaulted by the Divisional Police Officer (now former DPO) in charge of Iyaganku division, Ibadan, Alex Gwazah, Lukman Adeniyi, an Ibadan based fashion designer; has finally gotten justice.

Justice Rachael Boyede Akintola, sitting over Court 4, of the Oyo State High Court, Ibadan, has awarded a sum of N150,000 as damages and costs against a former Divisional Police Officer (DPO), Iyaganku, Ibadan, CSP Alex Gwazah, for infringing on rights of Lukman Adeniyi.

Delivering the judgement on Tuesday, Justice Akintola ruled that the act of the first respondent was unlawful in respect of the things he did to the applicant.

It will be recalled that Lukman Adeniyi had taken the matter to the High Court in December 2020 to enforce his fundamental human rights, after he was discharged by the magistrates’ court he was initially charged to.

The High Court awarded N50,000 as damages against the first respondent, while N100,000 was awarded in favour of the applicant.

In an affidavit sworn to by the applicant, the former DPO was named as the first respondent and the state commissioner of police was the second respondent.

He added that the second respondent had refused to take any step on the matter, despite his writing a letter of complaint through his lawyer.

But there was no award of damages against the second respondent.

The judge ruled that the second respondent could not be vicariously liable to act on the first respondent, saying that all the first respondent did were of his own volition.

According to the information scooped from the Nigerian Tribune,  after the furore raised over the initial arraignment of the fashion designer, Gwazah was redeployed from Iyaganku division to Quick Intervention Unit as the head.

In the affidavit, Adeniyi narrated how he was contacted by the DPO to sew clothes for him, but ended up being physically assaulted, detained in the cell and arraigned in court over accusation that he damaged his clothes.

He added that the charge was eventually struck off by a magistrate, Mrs Olajumoke Akande, sitting over Court 8, at Iyaganku Magistrates’ Court, for want of diligent prosecution.

This, the applicant said, was because the first respondent failed to attend court proceedings the two times the matter came up for hearing.

Adeniyi also pointed out in the affidavit that Gwazah failed to pay him his professional fee of N60,000, which he legitimately earned through mutual agreement, despite several demands.

He stated that since the matter was struck off the magistrates’ court’s list, he had been receiving threats from the first respondent on his rearrest and being dealt with, unless he dropped his demand for payment of the professional fee.

This, Adeniyi said, had made him to abandon his workplace at Oke Bola area of Ibadan.

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Bawa outlines his vision for the EFCC

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The newly confirmed Executive Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Abdurasheed Bawa has revealed his vision for the anti graft agency.

The EFCC Chief promised to lead the anti- corruption agency by example and cut down discretion in the conduct of its affairs through institutionalizing a Standard Operating Procedure.

According to him,”What I envisage the EFCC to do is to ensure that we work on our own Standard Operational Procedure, to improve on our Standard Operational Procedures so much so that, all that is expected of us is written down somewhere in a document to curtail the use of discretion from the office of the Executive Chairman down to the ordinary investigator.

“We are looking forward to an EFCC whereby I as the Executive Chairman if I give an instruction to a junior officer, he will look at my face and say, Sir I understand your instruction but I will not be able to do it because of so and so Section governing the rules and regulations of the EFCC”.

He also stated that he was interested in establishing synergy with other law enforcement organizations, both nationally and internationally, and aggressively pursue the repatriation of seized assets.

“I have talked on the issue of synergy between the EFCC and sister security agencies in the country as well as the work I envisage to do together with our foreign strategic partners. We are going to work on that, we are going to strengthen it. The EFCC is not a lone ranger, we are going to reach out. The job of fighting economic and financial crimes is for everybody to be on board, and we will ensure that because we don’t have monopoly of knowledge.”

The new EFCC boss further expressed his desire to upgrade the skills of staff of the Commission through training, while also seeking the support of the lawmakers by way of appropriation.

In his words, “regarding the issue of repositioning, I have talked about processes and procedures and the law, but the backbone of every organization is its human resource. I hope and pray that we will still come back to this chamber for proper appropriation to enable us build the capacity of our staff at the EFCC and to meet up with the current challenges and new typologies of crime as well as trends in money laundering so that, at the end of the day, our vision of ridding this country of economic and financial crimes is actualized”.

On the vexed issue of management of recovered assets, the new EFCC Chairman said that going forward, the Commission will be more transparent and accountable, and  ensure that finally forfeited assets are disposed of immediately instead of leaving them dormant.

He equally pledged to work with the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Disposal of Federal Government Forfeited Assets, to ensure the success of their assignment, while also pursuing a programme of digitalization to guarantee the fidelity of assets record.

“We have, of course, the lingering problem or issues bothering on management of assets, etc. We will embark on the digitalization of the processes in the EFCC. In essence, what I am saying is that we are going to embrace technology to enable us keep our records properly so that anytime Nigerians are asking questions, it will just be a matter of pressing a button”,  Bawa continued.

In answer to a question, Bawa dispelled the allegation of illegally selling forfeited properties during his time as Head of the Port Harcourt Office of the Commission.

“I never sold a single truck at the Port Harcourt office, the head office handled that at the time.

“Anybody that is familiar with the processes of the EFCC knows that the chairman doesn’t have the power to sell an asset but the secretary of the agency. The former secretary and two directors came from the head office to conduct the sale”, he explained.

The EFCC boss assured that he would live to the expectation of the appointing authorities and teeming Nigerian youths who now look up to him as a model and ambassador.

“I am not unaware of the fact that my nomination has caused a lot of hope for millions of youths around the country, I want to state here that I am going to give them a good representation in the governance of this country so that at the end of the day, more youths will be given huge responsibilities in this country.

“Let me thank the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria for finding me competent and deserving as the chairman of the EFCC and to also assure him and indeed Nigerians that the confidence he has in me will be proven beyond doubt at the end of my term in office,” he stated.

Bawa who is a certified fraud examiner and member of the prestigious America -based Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, and a Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialist, has also been trained by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation, FBI and the UK National Crime Agency.

As the fourth executive chairman of the EFCC, he is the first core staff of the Commission to occupy the office.

 

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By Idowu Ayodele 

Photo credit : Channels TV

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