Capital Market scam: Okumagba absent as Court adjourned case

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By Joseph INOKOTONG

Chief Magistrate Court Zone 6, Abuja on Monday adjourned till January 25, 2018, for further hearing on the matter between the Federal Government and the BGL Group and its officials.

This is even as Managing Director of the Company, Albert Okumagba was again absent in court.

Presided by Chief Magistrate Chinyere  Elewe Nwecheonwu, the adjournment became necessary after counsel to Deputy Managing Director of the Company, Chibundu Edozie, K.B Asunogie drew the attention of the Magistrate to a pending application before another court challenging Edozie’s arraignment.

Asunogie informed the court that “we are aware that there is a pending application challenging this arraignment. When an applicant is challenging a charge; his appearance on the dock is suspended until that preliminary objection is determined

I want to therefore ask that since that preliminary injunction subsists, the accused should be discharged from the dock”.

However, counsel to the Federal Government, Moshood Adeyemi told the court that they have not been served any notice of preliminary injunction, but also informed the court he was ready for an adjournment to enable the prosecution  regularize its papers and produce Albert Okumagba in court so as to be able to get justice for all parties concerned.

Presiding Magistrate therefore directed the defense team to serve the notice on the prosecution before the next adjourned date to enable the court hears the notice of preliminary injunction.

There was a mild drama outside the court when counsel to the accused tried to prevent journalists from taking photographs of the accused person, threatening to sue anyone that publishes a photograph of the defense team or the accused.

In the end, some of the defense team formed a human barricade around the accused while others blocked the lenses of  one of the photojournalists.

Recall that the BGL Group and its officials were last month arraigned at the Chief Magistrate Court Zone 6, Abuja on charges of criminal conspiracy, Breach of Trust and cheating contrary to Sections 96, 312, 322 and 323 of the Penal Code Law, Chapter 89.

Edozie who was docked along with three other accused were alleged to have conspired among themselves with some other staff of BGL and committed the offenses against the investing public which includes Mahmoud Usman, Ann Awase Orsule, Sylvanus C. Ghasarah, Eno Efanga, UN Staff Thrift Credit Cooperative Society of Anambra State, Abuja office and Adejoke Atte among others who filed complaints against them before the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Managing Director of the Company, Mr. Albert Okumagba was not in court and also had no representation.

However, Edozie was granted bail in the sum of N1million with one surety in the like sum who should not be less than a Level 12 officer and resident in Abuja.

Presiding Magistrate, Chief Magistrate Chinyere  Elewe Nwecheonwu  after the arraignment,  adjourned the hearing to November 6, 2017.

The SEC in exercising its responsibility as enshrined in the ISA, in tackling civil cases through its Administrative Proceedings Committee (APC) recently banned Mr Albert Okumagba, BGL Managing Director and his deputy, Mr Chibundu Edozie, from participating in capital market activities for 20 years.

The commission also ordered Okumugba’s companies to refund to investors over two billion naira.

The ban followed complaints by investors against Okumagba and his company over failure, refusal and or/neglect to liquidate their investments in both the Guaranteed Consolidated dated notes and Guaranteed Premium Notes, among others.

The SEC in a bid to obtain justice for the complainants and grant all parties fair hearing, presented the matter before its APC which sat and decided on the matter.

“During the proceedings testimonies and documentary evidence were tendered by various parties and upon conclusion of the proceedings its APC arrived at a decision which has been approved by the relevant authority,” SEC stated.

The APC decided that by their actions and/or omissions BGL Securities Ltd, BGL Asset Management Ltd., Okumagba, Edozie and other respondents engaged in acts capable of adversely affecting investors’ confidence in the capital market.

It added that the APC decided that the registration of BGL Securities and BGL Assets Management be cancelled, while Okumagba and Edozien be banned from capital market operations for a period of 20 years.

It stated further that the two companies would also pay a fine of N25 million for breaching Rule 1(iii) of the Code of Conduct for capital market operators.

“Other than Okumagba and Edozie, Peter Adebola and Ashley Osuzoka have also been banned for five years and four years respectively,” it added.

The APC, apart from the ban placed on them and some monetary fines, directed the companies to refund N24.03 million to the National Open University Staff Cooperative Multipurpose Society.