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EFCC files charges against Ibru, Ebong, 13 others

By Innocent Anaba & Abayomi Adeshida
LAGOS—Former Managing Directors of Oceanic Bank, Mrs Cecilia Ibru; FinBank Nigeria Plc, Mr Okey Nwosu; Mr Sebastian Adigwe of Afribank Plc and Mr. Bartholomew Ebong of Union Bank of Nigeria Plc, who were sacked three weeks ago by the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi,  were arraigned before a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, on five separate charges of 131 counts, bordering on fraud, concealment and grant of loans without adequate collateral, running into about N625.95billion.

Also, seven non-executives and members of Board of Directors of Intercontinental Bank Plc, Dr. Raymond Obieri, Engr. Hynacinth Enuha, Christopher Alabi, Chief Samuel Adegbite, Alhaji Isyaku Umar, Mr. Bayo Dada and Elder Sanni and three bank debtors, Peter Ololo, Henry Onyemem and Niyi Opeodu were charged.

Raymond Obieri, former Chairman, Intercontinental Bank; Mr Okey Nwosu MD, Finbank and  Barthlomew Ebong, former Managing Director of Union Bank Bank, at the Federal High Court, Lagos
Raymond Obieri, former Chairman, Intercontinental Bank; Mr Okey Nwosu MD, Finbank and Barthlomew Ebong, former Managing Director of Union Bank Bank, at the Federal High Court, Lagos

For the charge against Cecilia Ibru, N160.7billion is involved while the case against Okey Nwosu attracted N95.15billion. That of Sebastian Adigwe is about N154.5billion; for Intercontinental Bank non-executive members, N131.93billion is involved and for Ebong, N83.67billion is at stake..

There was a mild drama in court when the charges against Ibru were read to her. Mrs Ibru who looked stressed, suddenly collapsed in the dock after hearing Count 18 of the charges. The development delayed proceedings for about 10 minutes, during which her physician, Major-General Gabriel Ovadje (Rtd) attended to her and certified her fit to continue with the trial.

Meanwhile, after their arraignment, Cecilia and Intercontinental Bank non-executive members,  Dr. Raymond Obieri, Engr. Hynacinth Enuha, Christopher Alabi, Chief Samuel Adegbite, Alhaji Isyaku Umar, Mr. Bayo Dada and Elder Sanni Adams and Bartholomew Bassey Ebong, Henry Onyemem and Niyi Opeodu were ordered remanded in EFCC custody while Okey Nwosu,  Sebastian Adigwe and Peter Ololo were ordered remanded at Ikoyi Prison, Lagos till Friday, when their bail applications would be argued.

The accused persons were brought to the Federal High Court, Lagos premises at about 1.45pm in two Toyota Hiace buses, with number plates BK 561 RBC, which conveyed eight of the accused persons and BK562 RBC, which brought Cecilia Ibru, Adigwe and Ebong.

Ibru sat on the second to the last row of the bus, wearing a blue dress, with her usual Oceanic Bank scarf, around her neck.

The first to be docked was Okey Nwosu, who was ushered into the court at about 2 p.m. He pleaded not guilty to the 11-count charge read to him. His counsel attempted to argue his bail application, but EFCC counsel objected, contending that the counsel to the accused person should file a written bail application.

Trial judge in the matter, Justice Dan Abutu, in a short ruling, agreed with EFCC, and ordered counsel to the accused person to file a written bail application and adjourned further hearing till  Friday.

The charges against him include failure to take reasonable steps to ensure the correctness of the November 2008 Finbank Nigeria Plc Monthly Bank Returns to the CBN, contrary to provisions of Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act, Cap B3 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and other Offences, which contravened the same Law.

The next to be docked were Sebastian Adigwe, former MD of Afribank Plc,  Mr Peter Ololo, the highest debtor on the list released by the CBN, who is said to be owing N80billion and his company, Falcon Securities Ltd. They all pleaded not guilty to the 36-count charge of granting of loan facilities to Falcon Securities Ltd. without adequate collateral, contrary to provisions of Failed Bank (Recovery of Debts) and Financial Malpractices in Bank Act, Cap F2 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and other Offences, punishable under the same law.

They pleaded not guilty to the charges and while hearing on their bail application was adjourned till Friday, they were ordered remanded at EFCC custody.

The nine non-executive directors and members of Board of Directors of Intercontinental Bank Plc, were the third set to be arraigned on an 18-count charge of colluding with the MD of Intercontinental Bank, now at large to grant various facilities running into billions of naira to companies, which the bank directors are also directors, an offence contrary to the the provisions of the Failed Bank (Recovery of Debts) and Financial Malpractices in Bank Act, Cap F2 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and punishable under the same law.

Charges against Ibru

Cecilia Ibru, was charged alone on a 25-count charge of reckless granting of loan facilities without adequate collateral, contrary to provisions of Failed Bank (Recovery of Debts) and Financial Malpractices in Bank Act, Cap F2 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and an offence punishable under the same law. She pleaded not guilty to the charges, while hearing on her bail application was also adjourned till Friday. She was ordered remanded in EFCC custody.

The last to be arraigned were Bartholomew Bassey Ebong, former MD of Union Bank, Henry Onyemem and Niyi Opeodu, who were charged on a 28-count charge of reckless granting loan facilities without adequate collateral, contrary to provisions of Failed Bank (Recovery of Debts) and Financial Malpractices in Bank Act, Cap F2 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and an offence punishable under the same law.

They pleaded not guilty to the charge and ordered remanded at Ikoyi Prison, Lagos, while hearing in their bail application was adjourned till Friday also.

The charges preferred against Cecilia Ibru read; “that you Dr. (Mrs.) Cecilia Ibru (the former MD of Oceanic Bank International Plc) and others now at large sometime in March, 2008 within the jurisdiction of this court recklessly granted a credit facility in the sum of N16billion to Cloudy Heights Limited without adequate security contrary to the accepted practice and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 15 (1) (a) of the Failed Banks (Recovery of Debts) and Financial Malpractices in Banks Act, Cap F2, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and punishable under section 16 (1) (a) of the same Act.

* That you Cecilia Ibru  and others now at large sometime in April 2009 within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court recklessly granted a credit facility in the sum of N5b to Petosan Oil and Gas Company Ltd without adequate security contrary to the accepted practice and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 15 (1) (a) of the Failed Banks (Recovery of Debts) and Financial Malpractices in Banks Act, Cap F2, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and punishable under section 16(1) (a) of the same Act.

* That you  Cecilia Ibru and others now at large sometime in April 2009 within the jurisdiction of this court recklessly granted a credit facility in the sum of N6.5b to Petosan Property and Development Company Ltd without adequate security contrary to the accepted practice and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 15 (1)   (a)   of  the   Failed   Banks   (Recovery  of  Debts)   and   Financial Malpractices in Banks Act, Cap F2, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and punishable under section 16 (1) (a) of the same Act.

* That you Cecilia Ibru  and others now at large sometime in April 2009 within the jurisdiction of this court recklessly granted a credit facility in the sum of N2b to Petosan Farms Limited without adequate security contrary to the accepted practice and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 15 (1) (a) of the Failed Banks (Recovery of Debts) and Financial Malpractices in Banks Act, Cap F2, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and punishable under section 16 (1) (a) of the same Act.

* That you Cecilia Ibru and others now at large sometime in March 2008 within the jurisdiction of this court recklessly granted a credit facility in the sum of N15b to Bliss-Bloss Integrated Ltd without adequate security contrary to the accepted practice and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 15 (1) (a) of the Failed Banks (Recovery of Debts) and Financial Malpractices in Banks Act, Cap F2, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and punishable under section 16 (1) (a) of the same Act.

More political office holders to face trial soon – EFCC

Meanwhile, EFCC yesterday assured Nigerians that  the current prosecution of some  bank executives and  arrest of their bad debtors has not beclouded its investigation of petitions against former and current political office holders because  nobody, however highly placed, would be allowed to commit economic crimes and escape prosecution.

Spokesman of the agency, Mr. Femi Babafemi who spoke with Vanguard in a telephone interview insisted that the immunity clause for certain political office holders could only affect the prosecution and not the investigation of any petition genuinely presented to the agency.

Speaking on the reason for sudden suspension of the prosecution of political office holders by the EFCC, Babafemi said, “there is nothing that has happened now that could cause the EFCC to stop prosecuting economic criminals irrespective of the political office they might be holding or might have held in the past.

“What you might have noticed is that we are not prosecuting fresh cases against serving and former political office holders and the reason is because we have cases against this category of people, which we will take before the courts as soon as we complete their investigation,” Babafemi declared.


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