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EFCC Arraigns Aisha Sabo for 10 Million Fraud in Damaturu

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The Maiduguri Zonal Command of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on Wednesday, November 8, 2023, arraigned Aisha Sabo before Justice Fadima Murtala Aminu of the Federal High Court, Damaturu, Yobe State on one-count charge bordering on criminal misappropriation to the tune of N10,473,500.00 (Ten Million, Four Hundred and Seventy-Three Thousand Five Hundred Naira).

The lone-count charge reads: “That you Aisha Sabo on or about March, 2022 at Damaturu, Yobe State within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court directly converts the aggregate sum of N10,473,500.00 (Ten Million, Four Hundred and Seventy-Three Thousand Five Hundred Naira) which you reasonably ought to have known that it forms part of proceeds of an unlawful act to wit: criminal misappropriation and thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under section 18 (2) (b) of the Money Laundering (Prevention and Prohibition) Act, 2022 and punishable under Section 18 (3) of the same Act.”

The defendant pleaded ‘not guilty’ to the charge when it was read to her.EFCC Counsel, Muhktar Ali Ahmed, thereafter prayed the court for a trial date while defence counsel, M.M Ngumurumi applied for the bail of the defendant.Justice Fadima adjourned the matter till January 24, 2024 for commencement of trial and admitted the defendant to bail with two sureties who must be resident in any local government area of Yobe State.She further ordered that one of the sureties must be a traditional or religious leader, while the second surety must be a reasonable person in Yobe State. All the sureties are to be verified by the EFCC.

Sabo was arrested by operatives of the Maiduguri Zonal Command of the EFCC for converting N10,473,500.00 belonging to a petitioner to her own use.

Crime

Wema Bank Fined N61.4m After breaching 7 Nigerian Laws

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WEMA Bank found itself on the wrong side of 7 Nigerian laws in 2023, paying penalties totalling N61.350 million in one year.

This was revealed in the bank’s full-year 2023 financial statement, which showed that the lender contravened a cybersecurity law, a section of the Bank and Other Financial Institutions Act (BOFIA) 2020, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) circulars on Know Your Customers, among others.

On the cybersecurity framework contravention, Wema Bank received a fine of N2 million, but the lender was fined N20 million for breaching Section 19(3A) of BOFIA, 2020.

Also, Wema Bank was made to pay N17.45 million for violating the CBN circulars on KYC.

The bank further paid a fine of N10 million for the late rendition of final returns. The CBN circulars on KYC were targeted at reducing money laundering and other forms of financial crimes.

“There is no doubt that having sufficient information about your customer and making use of that information is the most effective weapon against being used to launder the proceeds of crime.

In addition to minimizing the risk of being used for illicit activities, it provides protection against fraud, reputational and

financial risks and enables individual financial institutions to recognize suspicious activities,” the CBN says in its KYC manual.

Similarly, the bank paid a penalty of N8 million for Risk-Based Supervision (RBS) breaches. The lender was likewise penalised for a regulatory breach on the CBN clearance, paying a fine of N2 million for the contravention.

For the late filing of its 2022 audited financial statements with the Nigerian Exchange Limited (NGX), the tier-2 lender was fined N1.9 million.

Fraud and burglary lower but still risks

Fraud and burglary are still big risks for the bank, which lost N256.387 million to them in 2023. However, this was far lower than N880.154 million lost by the bank in fraud and burglary cases in the corresponding period of 2022.

This would mean that the bank took some measures to tackle fraud and theft in 2023, said a credit risk analyst, Mr Osai Djemba.

Mr Djemba explained that the bank “must introduce artificial intelligence measures to reduce its exposure to theft to the barest minimum,” arguing that “sophisticated thieves and several criminals have infiltrated the Nigerian financial system to steal, kill and destroy.”

Complainants demand N10.8bn

Wema Bank left 9,974 complaints unresolved by December 2023. This is lower than 13,642 unresolved complaints reported in the corresponding period of 2022.

Various customers with these complaints demanded N10.843 billion from the lender over the issues.

The bank, however, refunded N11.258 billion to customers (apart from the N10.843 billion), the financial statement said.

“As a result of the initiatives stated earlier, the Bank successfully reduced the average time taken to resolve customer complaints by 60% compared to 2022, and the resolution rate increased from 93% to 98% demonstrating our commitment to improving the experience of our customers consistently and efficiently, the bank noted.

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Contract Scam: EFCC Arraigns Kwara Businessman Alexander Adeniran Babatunde for N170m

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The Ilorin Zonal Command of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC on Monday, February 5, 2024, arraigned a businessman, Alexander Adeniran Babarinde from Oro-Ago in Ifelodun Local Government Area of Kwara State over alleged involvement in a contract scam, obtaining money under false pretence and forgery.Babarinde was arraigned by the EFCC, alongside his company, Ajays Engineering Limited and one Suleiman Muhammed, (who is currently at large) before Justice Mahmud Abdulgafar of the Kwara State High Court in Ilorin on eight–count charges bordering on obtaining under false pretences.

The defendants allegedly obtained several amounts of money from the complainant under the guise of funding and executing some Federal Government contracts.The petitioner alleged that Babarinde brought some contract awards letters from the Ecological Fund Management Committee Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Development, Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, Umaru Musa Yar’adua University, Katsina Universal Basic Education Commission, National Research Institute for Chemical Technology. But, findings by the EFCC revealed that the letters were forged and never emanated from the said government agencies.

It was gathered that the defendants had obtained money to the tune of N170 million from the petitioner as capital to execute the non-existent contracts. All attempts to recover the money however proved abortive.Count three of the charges against him reads: “That you, ALEXANDER ADENIRAN BABARINDE, AJAYS ENGINEERING LIMITED and SULEIMAN MOHAMMED (STILL AT LARGE), sometime between the months of January 2021 and December 2021, in Ilorin Kwara State, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, with intent to defraud, did obtain the sum of N30,530,300.00 (Thirty Million, Five Hundred and Thirty Thousand, Three Hundred Naira ) from one EZEKIEL OLA BABATUNDE as fees for the funding and execution of Federal Government contracts and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 1 (1) (a) of the Advance Fee Fraud and other Fraud Related Offences Act, 2006 and punishable under Section 1 (3) of the same Act”.Count four of the charges read: “That you, ALEXANDER ADENIRAN, BABARINDE, AJAYS ENGINEERING LIMITED and SULEIMAN MOHAMMED (STILL AT LARGE), sometime between January 2022 and December 2022, in Ilorin, Kwara State, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, with intent to defraud did obtain the sum of N6,655,009.00 (SIX MILLION, SIX HUNDRED AND FIFTY-FIVE THOUSAND NAIRA) from one EZEKIEL OLA BABATUNDE as fees for the funding and execution of Federal Government contracts and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 1 (1) (a) of the Advance Fee Fraud and other Fraud Related Offence Act, 2006 and Punishable under Section 1 (3) of the same Act”.

The defendant pleaded not guilty to all the charges when they were read to him.Following his plea, counsel to the EFCC, Rasheedat Alao, urged the court to remand the defendant (Babarinde) in the custody of the Nigeria Correctional Service and give a date for trial to enable the prosecution to prove its case.Justice Abdulgafar ordered that the defendant be remanded at the Correctional Service and adjourned the case till March 13, 2024 for trial.

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Polaris Bank staff sent to prison over alleged ₦16.6bn fraud

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NAN reports that Onukogu, also known as Daddy Hezekiah, is the spiritual head of Living Christ Mission Church, Onitsha in Anambra.

On Friday, a Federal High Court (FHC), Abuja, ordered Chinenye Duru, a Polaris Bank staff and account officer, to Victor Onukogu, to be remanded in a correctional facility over alleged ₦16.6 billion fraud.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that while the I-G is the complainant in the charge marked: FHC/ABJ/CR/603/2023, Polaris Bank Plc and Duru are 1st and 2nd defendants.

Upon resumed hearing, I-G’s counsel, Abdulrasheed Sidi, informed the court that the matter was fixed for arraignment.

But Duru’s lawyer Chukwuemeka Kalu, said though they were ready for the plea, the prosecution was in contempt of the FHC’s order and could not be heard.

“When I finish with the plea, you can say what you want to say,” Justice Ekwo declared.

Adedapo Adejumo, who appeared for Polaris Bank, said a plea of not guilty should be entered for his client.

After the 11 counts were read to Duru and he pleaded not guilty, Sidi applied for a date for trial.

But Kalu said on the taking of the plea, fundamental issues on the prosecution’s conduct had been raised.

The lawyer said though he was not objecting to a date for trial, he said during Duru’s detention, they approached the court for the enforcement of his right.“The matter was before your learner brother, Hon. Justice D.U. Okorowo, who ordered the interim release of the 2nd defendant on bail.“The conditions for the bail were fulfilled on this same matter between the parties“It was based on whether the prosecution will continue with investigation or prosecution of the 2nd defendant while the EFCC is doing the same,” he said.Kalu said despite serving the court order on the I-G, they refused to comply with the directive, “upon which we commenced a contempt proceeding against him before this court.”

He said Forms 48 and 49 had been served on the I-G.“We believe the Inspector-General of Police cannot take this court for granted on this same matter by bringing the 2nd defendant before the court,” he added.The judge told Kalu that what was before him currently was a charge against Duru which a plea had been taken.He said if the lawyer had any objection to the trial proceedings or any other matter relating to the charge, he should look at the provisions of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) and comply with it. The court would look at his application and make a decision.“I cannot preside over the proceedings even though it is the same court, it is presided over by a different judge.

“If you have any issue, you will spend time looking at how to approach it as prescribed by the law.“Plea has been taken, I have to take two decisions, one is on the remand of the 2nd defendant and the other is the date for trial,” the judge said.But Kalu said he had the order for his release before the court and that under Section 158 of the ACJA, the court had the power to admit Duru to bail.“Where is your application for bail?” Justice Ekwo asked.The lawyer responded that they were standing on the already existing order by Justice Okorowo.

“Did you file it?” the judge asked.“We did not but the order is already before the court,” he responded.Justice Ekwo then said that he would make two orders; one for the trial and the other for Duru’s remand, but if Kalu filed the bail application, a date would be given to hear it.“How many witnesses are you calling?” he asked the police lawyer and Sidi said five witnesses.The judge, who adjourned the matter until April 23, April 24 and April 25 for trial, ordered Duru to be remanded in a correctional centre pending further orders of the court.

NAN reports that in count one, Polaris Bank and Duru were alleged to have between Nov. 17, 2017, and Aug 14, 2023, fraudulently withdrawn from Onukogu Victor Hezekiah’s account numbers: 1040495455 and 1060104735, domiciled with the bank the sum of N16 billion and ₦500 million.It said that knowing that the said money did not belong to them, “and knowing the same act was wrong with the intention of converting same to your personal use and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 21 (a) and punishable under Section 18 (3) of the Money Laundering (Prevention and Prohibition Act, 2022.In count four, the defendants were alleged to have between Nov. 17, 2017 and Aug. 14, 2023, fraudulently withdrew the sum of ₦75. 534 million from Onukogu’s account number: 4010023601 contrary to Section 18 (2) of the Money Laundering (Prevention and Prohibition Act, 2022.In count six, they were alleged to have fraudulently withdrawn the sum of ₦13.3 million from Hezekiah University’s account number: 40910106770.The defendants were also alleged to have fraudulently withdrawn the sum of ₦16.3 million between the same date from Hezekiah University’s account number: 411054152 without any authorisation from the account owner to convert same to their personal use contrary to the Money Laundering Act, among other counts.

NAN reports that Onukogu, also known as Daddy Hezekiah, is the spiritual head of Living Christ Mission Church, Onitsha in Anambra.

(C) NEWS AGENCY OF NIGERIA

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