By Abdulwahab Abdulah, Tosin Adejumo & Chinwendu Okeke
A former manager with the Union bank Plc, Mr Alex Nkenchor and one Ebi Odeigah ofÂ GMT Securities and Assets Nigeria Limited, were yesterday remanded in prison custody over alleged N860 million fraud.
The duo alongside one company, GMT Security and Assets Nig. Ltd, were accused of stealing, conspiracy and issuance of dishonoured cheque valued at N860 million to the Union Bank Plc despite that they knew there was â€œno sufficient funds standing to the credit of the account on which the cheque was drawn.â€
They were charged for â€œissuance of dishonoured cheque contrary to Section 1(1) (a) of the Dishonoured Cheques (offences) Act, Cap. D11 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
â€œConspiracy to steal contrary to Section 516 of the Criminal Code Law Cap C17 Laws of Lagos State of Nigeria, 2003.â€
They were arraigned before Justice Morenike Obadina of an Ikeja High Court on a 10-count charge of conspiracy, stealing and issuing dud cheque.
The proceeding was not without harassment on Judicial corespondents who covered the trial with a Nigeria News Maker Magazine correspondent, Jesukri ImoniÂ beaten up by a relative to one of the accused, while a The Guardian photojournalist, Gabriel Ikhahon, was also threatened.
It was the intervention of a police officer, attached to the court that saved the journalists from further molestation.
When they were arraigned, it was said that the accused persons were at different times in July 2008 defrauded Union Bank Nigeria Plc of the said amount through dud cheques issued by them. The fraudÂ was however perpetrated at the Golden Plaza, Falomo, Branch of Union Bank where Nkenchor was the branch manager.
According to offence, the ex-Union Bank branch manager was alleged to have given value to three uncleared Zenith Bank cheques totaling N860m raised in favour of Union Bank by Odeigah, managing director of GMT Securities and Assets Nigeria Limited.
It was said that on each occasion, once the cheques are presented, Nkenchor who is married toÂ Odeigahâ€™s sister will raise a bankersâ€™ draft in favour of GMT Securities and Assets Nigeria Limited even when he knew that there were no sufficient funds in their account with the bank.
The 10-count charge read in part â€œ Issuance of dishonoured cheque contrary to section 1(1) (a) of the Dishonoured cheques (offences) Act, Cap. D11 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
Particulars of offence-
â€œEbi Odeigah and GMT Securities and Assets Nig. Ltd on or about 31st July, 2008 at Lagos within the Ikeja Judicial Division with intent to defraud, knowingly and fraudulently issued a Zenith Bank of Nigeria Plc. Cheque No.000004184 dated 31st July, 2008 for the sum of Four Hundred million (N400, 000,000.00) payable to Union Bank of Nigeria Plc. which when presented for payment was dishonoured on the grounds that no sufficient funds were standing to the credit of the account on which the cheque was drawn.
â€œConspiracy to steal contrary to Section 516 of the Criminal Code Law Cap C17Laws of Lagos. State of Nigeria, 2003.
â€œEbi Odeigah, Alexander Nkenchor and GMT Securities and Assets Nig. Ltd on or about 31st day of July, 2008 at Lagos at Lagos within the Ikeja Judicial Division with intent to steal, conspired to steal money, property of Union Bank of Nigeria Plc.
â€œStealing contrary to section 390 (8)(b) of the Criminal Code Law Cap. C17 Vol.2, Laws of Lagos State of Nigeria, 2003.â€
Further hearing in the case has been adjourned till October 20, 2009.