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EFCC arraigns businesswoman for alleged N50bn fraud in Lagos

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Monday arraigned Lagos businesswoman Saadatu Ramalan-Yaro on counts of money laundering.

Ramalan-Yaro, the director of April 1616 Investment Limited and Amsamay Limited, both non-financial institutions, was arraigned for alleged money laundering before Justice Nicholas Oweibo of the Federal High Court in Ikoyi, alongside the two companies. Also arraigned were Misabs International Limited and Armada Financial Services.

Ramalan-Yaro’s April 1616, on July 3, 2020, in Lagos, allegedly failed to submit to the Ministry of Commerce a declaration of activities of the company leading to the deposit of N1,050,000,000 in its Zenith Bank account.

In another count, April 1616, between 2017 and 2021 in Lagos, failed to submit to the Ministry of Commerce a declaration of activities for the total sum of N42,578,881,137 deposited into the same Zenith Bank account.

According to the charge, the second company, Misabs, between 2016 and 2019 in Lagos failed to submit to the Ministry of Commerce a declaration of N1,930,054,133.26 in another Zenith Bank account.

Similarly, the third company, Armada, between July 5 and December 31, 2021, in Lagos, also failed to submit to the Ministry of Commerce a declaration of N1,950,000,000 deposited into the company’s Zenith Bank account.

Likewise, Amsaymay Limited, the fourth company, between October 12 and November 28, 2020, in Lagos, allegedly retained the sum of N1,417,198,232 in its Zenith Bank account.

The offences violated Sections 5(1)(a) and 16(1)(f) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act 2011, as amended, and are punishable under Section 16(2)(b) of the same act.

The defendants pleaded “not guilty” to the charges, after which the prosecution counsel, S. I. Sulaiman, asked the court for a trial date.

The defence counsel, Richard Oma-Ahonaruogho (SAN), moved the bail application for Ramalian-Yaro.

The judge granted the defendant bail in the aggregate sum of N10 million, with two sureties who must be Grade 14 officers with properties within the jurisdiction of the court.

The case was adjourned until September 28, 2023, for trial.

Crime

Mompha’s trial adjourned till July 1

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Justice Mojisola Dada of the Special Offences Court sitting in Ikeja, Lagos, on Monday, May 20, 2024, adjourned the trial of Ismaila Mustapha, (a.k.a Mompha) till July 1, 2024 just as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, presented its fifth witness, EFCC, PW5, Ezekoli Ozoemenam, a staff of Fidelity Bank Plc.

The Lagos Zonal Command of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, had on January 12, 2022 arraigned Mompha alongside his company, Ismalob Global Investment Limited, on an eight-count charge bordering on conspiracy to launder funds obtained through unlawful activity, retention of proceeds of criminal conduct, laundering of funds obtained through unlawful activity, failure to disclose assets and property, possession of documents containing false pretences and use of property derived from unlawful act.

One of the counts read: “Ismaila Mustapha, Ahmadu Mohammed (at large) and Ismalob Global Investment Limited, sometime in 2016, in Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, conspired amongst yourselves to conduct financial transactions to the tune of N5,998,884,653.18 ( Five Billion Nine Hundred and Ninety-eight Million,  Eight Hundred and Eighty-four Thousand, Six Hundred and Fifty-three Naira Eighteen Kobo), with the intent of promoting the carrying on of specified unlawful activities to wit: obtaining by false pretence.”

He pleaded “not guilty” to the charges when they were read to him.

On September 22, 2022, Justice Dada ordered that the trial of Mompha would continue in absentia, after he jumped bail.

At Monday’s proceedings, Ozoemenam, a compliance officer with the bank, who was led in evidence by the prosecuting counsel, S.I. Suleiman, told the court that the bank received requests from the EFCC as part of the EFCC’s investigation.

“We received request from the EFCC for the account opening package of the defendant, to which we responded,”  he said.

He, thereafter, identified the correspondence between the bank and the EFCC, when a copy was shown to him in open court.

“This is the same document which we provided to the EFCC and it was printed from a perfectly working computer system,” he said.

The prosecution then tendered the documents containing the account opening package and urged the court to admit them into evidence.

However, defence counsel, Kolawole Salami, said he would reserve his objection to the application.

Under cross-examination, the witness told the court that the account was opened in 2016, “and as at that time, I was part of the internal control, and I moved from branch to branch.”

He further testified that anomalies in bank accounts are reported to the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU).

The case has been adjourned till July 1, 2024 for continuation of trial.

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Court remands blogger for allegedly cyberbullying Zion movement ministry’s G.O

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A Federal High Court in Lagos has ordered the remand of a blogger, Chizorom Harrison Ofoegbu for alleged Cyber stalking, and defamation of the spiritual director,  Zion Movement Outreach Ministry,  Evangelist Ebuka Obi.

The presiding judge, Justice Akintayo Aluko, ordered the remand of the blogger, after he pleaded not guilty to the three counts charges of conspiracy, cyber stalking and publishing a vexatious and obnoxious publications against the person of Evang. Ebuka Obi.

At the arraignment of the blogger yesterday, Barrister Peter Ajike, a Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) appeared for the prosecution, while Mr. Femi Falana SAN appeared for the defendant.

The prosecutor informed the court that he has an amended charge dated April 15, 2024.

Though the defence lawyer,  Mr. Falana (SAN) initially objected to the amended charge on the ground that he was not served, he however, upon being served with the amended charge,  withdrew his objection.

Following which the three counts amended charge was read to the defendant.

Upon the reading of the charge, the defendant pleaded not guilty.

Based on his not guilty plea, his lawyer, Mr. Falana (SAN), orally applied for his bail.

Falana cited the Court of Appeal decision, in the case between Abiola and Federal Republic of Nigeria, delivered by Justice Abdulahi (JCA), and urged the court to use its discretion in granting the oral application for bail.

The prosecutor, DSP Ajike, however urged the court to discountenance the oral application for bail, saying that the court is a court of record.

He therefore urged the court to remand the defendant in the custody of the Nigerian Correctional Services (NCoS), till when his bail application is filed and determined.

Ruling on the bail application, Justice Aluko, held that every case has its own specularity, and that the charge against the defendant is different from the one cited by the defence counsel.

Consequently, Justice Aluko ordered  that a former bail application must be filed.

On the remand of the defendant, pending the hearing of his bail application, Falana pleaded with the court to remand him in the police facility, where he has been remanded for two months.

He told the court that the defendant has been in the police custody, Abuja, since March.

Again, the prosecutor opposed the application, and urged the court to remand him in the NCoS’ custody.

Justice Aluko, in his short ruling, acceded to the prosecutor’s submission, and ordered that the defendant be remanded at the NCoS’, pending the hearing and determination of his bail on May 30.

The three counts amended charge against the blogger reads: “that you Chizorom Harrison Ofoegbu ‘M’ sometime in February 2024 at Oshodi Lagos State within the Jurisdiction of this honourable Court did commit an illegal act to wit: Conspiracy, when you Chizorom Harrison Ofoegbu and others now at large Criminally conspired within yourselves, used your social media handle ‘The King of the game’ knowing same to be false made a vexatious and obnoxious online Publications against the person of Evang. Ebuka Obi the spiritual director of Zion Movement Outreach Ministry situated in Lagos purporting him to be performing fake, arranged miracles and deceiving members of the Public which attracted several views from third parties with the intention to cause hatred and damage to the reputation of Evang. Ebuka Obi and his Ministry before the right thinking members of the Public and you thereby committed an offence contrary to section 27(1)(a) of Cybercrimes (Prohibition, Prevention) Act 2015.

“That you Chizorom Harrison Ofoegbu ‘M’ sometime in February 2024 at Oshodi Lagos State within the Jurisdiction of this Honorable Court did commit an illegal act to wit: Cyber stalking, when you Chizorom Harrison Ofoegbu and others now at large Criminally used your social media handle “The King of the game” made a vexatious and obnoxious online Publications against the person of Evang. Ebuka Obi the spiritual director of Zion Movement Outreach Ministry situated in Lagos purporting him to be performing fake and arranged miracles and deceiving members of the Public as well as put Evang. Ebuka Obi to fear of death and any members of his Ministry which attracted several views from third parties with the intention to cause hatred and damage the reputation of Evang. Ebuka Obi and his Ministry before the right thinking members of the Public and you thereby committed an offence contrary to section 24(1){a)(b) and (2)({a)(b)Cybercrimes (Prohibitions, Prevention) Act 2015.

“That you Chizorom Harrison Ofoegbu ‘M’ sometime in February 2024 at Oshodi Lagos State within the Jurisdiction of this Honorable Court did commit an illegal act to wit: Defamation , when you Chizorom Harrison Ofoegbu and others now at large Criminally used your social media handle.

“The King of the game made a vexatious and obnoxious Publication against the person of Evang. Ebuka Obi the spiritual director of Zion Movement Outreach Ministry situated in Lagos with the intent to annoy, exposing him to hatred, contempt and ridicule him by purporting him to be performing fake and arranged miracles and deceiving members of the Public which attracted several views from third parties and by so doing. You have criminally disparaged, lowered his estimation and damaged the reputation of Evang. Ebuka Obi and his Ministry before the right thinking members of the Public and you thereby committed an offence contrary to sections 373 and 374 of the Criminal Code Act, Punishable under section 375 of the Criminal Code Act.”

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Lagos Court sentence three men for illicit drug trafficking

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By Adeyanju Esther

On Monday, a Federal High Court in Lagos convicted and sentenced three men for illegal drug trafficking.

Justice Kehinde Ogundare handed down a three-year prison sentence to Kazeem Mustapha, Andrew Ukelere, and Anthony Chinemerem.

The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) arraigned the trio on a two-count charge of drug trafficking, to which they pleaded guilty.

After reviewing the case’s facts and with NDLEA counsel Ms. Ifeoma Erondu presenting several exhibits, the court found the evidence supporting the prosecution’s case compelling.

Consequently, the judge convicted the three men based on their guilty pleas and the evidence presented.

The judge admitted the exhibits in evidence and convicted them. He sentenced Mustapha and Ukelere to two years imprisonment with an option of N250, 000 fine, each, on count one.

On count two, the judge sentenced Mustapha and Chinemerem to one year imprisonment with an option of a N100,000 fine, each.

He directed that the terms of imprisonment run concurrently while the fines should be cumulative.

According to NDLEA, the convicts committed the offences on March 19 on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.

The agency said Mustapha and Ukelere illegally trafficked 13.9kg of Tramadol, adding that Mustapha and Chinemerem trafficked 590 litres of Pentazocine.

Drug trafficking contravenes Section 11(b) of the NDLEA Act of 2004.

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