N15 Million Edo Welders Association Fraud, EFCC Testifies

11

 

By Ikhili Monday EBALU, Benin city

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), has said the documents before the commission shown that Gov Adams Oshiomhole approved the sum of N15 million for Edo Welders Association empowerment.

Mr Ganiyu Ajisafe of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), stated this when he testified before Justice Ohimai Ovbiagele of a Benin High Court on Friday.

Ajisafe who is a team leader of EFCC Bank Fraud session testified before the court on the alleged N15 million frauds.

According to him, the commission received a written petition from Uyoge and Company practitioners by Edo Welders Association against the Executive members of the association on May 30, 2017 and assigned to my team.

The defendants, now all former executive members of the association are: Isaac Ogundumi, Monday Ewemade, John Odalo, Andrew Egharewan and Omorogbe Jacob.

AJisafe said in course of investigation, these five former Executive members conspired and diverted the N15 Million which Gov Oshiomhole approved for empowerment of the state Welders Association.

“Upon the receipt of the petition, Mr Uyoke and Mr Anthony Eko zonal chairman of Welders Association adopted the petition on behalf of other chairmen.

“The petitioners also thrown more light on the matter, adding that the Association has an account the United Bank of Africa,UBA.

“The commission wrote an investigation letters to the UBA demanding for Statement of Account and also to the state Accountant General’s office in Government House.” Ajisafe said.

He added that the office of the accountant general replied with other documents shown how the money was paid in two tranches: N9 million first and before N6 million totals N15 million

According to him, from the information from accountant General office, it was discovered that the five defendants opened a new account bearing the Association’s name with Diamond Bank where the cheques were deposited without the knowledge of their members.

Ajisafe said consequently, the commission wrote investigation letter to Diamond Bank, requesting for documents in opening the account, statement of the account and other relevant documents that would help for the investigation.

The documents received from Diamond Bank shown how the money came in and how it was diverted and also a fake minutes of the Association meeting with fake names on it in opening the account.

He said in view of the affirmation the operatives visited the some defendant’s houses and shop where they were arrested and taken to EFCC office, while some were invited to the office.

The defendants were shown the copy of the petition and they volunteer their statement and later served them with bail condition to release them

According to him, the defendants all admitted the allegation and accepted them orally and in their statement but accepted to return the money which they have started paying to bank because EFCC do not accept cash but bank draft.

He also said that in course of investigation, it was discovered tha some of the defendants but cars with the proceeds.

“Black Mercedes Benz was retrieved from Odaro, Black Nissan jeep from Ewemade, and a Toyota Camry from Egharewan.

“The defendants said they got the vehicles through the proceeds of the N15million and our further investigation to check the vehicles particulars tallied with the time frame of when the vehicles were bought and duly registered” he said

EFCC counsel, Mr Moses Arumemi Tendered certified copies of the investigation documents as exhibits without objection from the defendants’ counsels but the confessional statement signed by 1st defendant, Ogundumi was objected by his counsel Alhaji Al-Amid Alao.

Also objected the statement, saying it was written by EFCC operative for his defendant and it was signed under Duress and appealed to court for Trial within Trial.

The court however adjourned the case until Nov 3 for Trial within Trial.

National Trail recalls that, the court had granted bail to the five defendants with N500, 000 each.

The defendants are facing alleged N15 million fraud charges.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), had on Oct. 9, arraigned the defendants before Justice Ovbiagele for allegedly stealing the association’s money.

The EFCC alleged that the defendants, while acting as executive members of the association, between 2002 and 2016 converted the association’s money to their personal use.

They all pleaded not guilty to the 15-count charge, while the judge ordered their remand in Oko Prisons adjourned the case until Oct. 11 for hearing of the bail application.

But on Oct. 11, the defendants were not brought to court, but they were granted bail

Arumemi, however, said the offences, committed between January 2016 to December 2016, contravened Sections 383(1)(a), 465,and 468 of the Criminal Code, CAP 4 8, Laws of Bendel State of Nigeria, as applicable to Edo.

The charges border on conspiracy, stealing by conversion and forgery.