The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on Thursday arraigned the last batch of the accused persons in the hearing of the Central Bank of Nigeria’s N8bn mutilated currency fraud suit at the Federal High Court in Ibadan.
The EFCC told Justice Adeyinka Faaj that the accused persons, conspired with other two suspects, Onabanjo Olumayowa and Tijani Olusoga, who are now at large, between 2011 and 2012 in Ibadan and tricked the CBN to pay N1.6bn to the Zenith Bank Plc, instead of N159,431,700.
The five accused persons who were in court on Thursday are Kolawole Babalola, Olaniran Adeola, Kayode Philip, Ajuwon Bolade and Samuel Ogbeide.
The lead counsel for the EFCC, Mr. Rotimi Jacob (SAN), told the court that the accused violated the anti-graft agency’s Act.
Jacobs told the judge that the accused had claimed that the 106 boxes containing the supposed mutilated N1,000 notes they took to Ibadan branch of the CBN on behalf of Zenith Bank contained N1, 060, 000, 000 instead of N159,431,700.
By this, Jacobs argued that they tricked the CBN into paying the commercial bank N1.6bn.
The charge sheet read that the accused persons, “Induced the Central Bank of Nigeria to deliver property to the Zenith Bank Plc, to wit: an aggregate sum of N1,060,000, 000, as against the actual sum of N159,431,700 on the false pretence that the 106 boxes containing the supposed mutilated N1,000 notes which you took to the Ibadan branch of the CBN on behalf of the said Zenith Bank Plc contained a total sum of N1,060,000,000. You thereby committed an offence punishable under section 1 (1) (b) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act No. 14 of 2006.”
Jacobs said the accused persons committed a financial crime punishable under the laws of Nigeria.
A total of 14-count charge was preferred against the accused and they all pleaded not guilty to all the charges.
After turning down oral bail application from the counsel for the accused, Justice Faaj later fixed June 12, 2015 for hearing of the motion on bail applications while also ordering the accused persons to be remanded in prison.
Arraignment of the accused persons in the suit began on Tuesday and by Thursday, 22 bank officials had already been brought to the court and remanded in prison custody. But one of them, who is a nursing mother, was ordered to be kept in the custody of the State Criminal Investigation Department, Ibadan.
EFCC counsel expressed happiness at the court proceeding so far but feared that counsel for the accused persons could employ delay tactics in the suit.
He also said that the EFCC was doing everything possible to ensure that those who are at large would be apprehended and presented before the court.