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Alleged N2.5bn Fraud: Court remands Bayelsa Accountant-General, 2 others in prison

.…As EFCC declares Finance Commissioner wanted

By Ise-Oluwa Ige
A Federal high court sitting in Abuja Wednesday sent the Bayelsa state Accountant General, Francis Okokuro and two others to Kuje prison over allegation of stealing N2.5billion belonging to the state government.

The two others jailed with Okokuro yesterday included the Bayelsa state’s Director of Treasury at the Government House, Abot Clinton and the Director of Finance, Anthony Howells

Their order of remand came yesterday after the trial high court judge, Daniel Okoronwo, who took their pleas refused to entertain oral application for their bail.

He said it was not his practice to grant bail upon oral application.

He told the accused persons in clear terms yesterday that if they were keen for the bail, he advised them to file a formal application.

He also said that he would hear the bail application as soon as it is filed.

Although three principal officials of the Bayelsa State Government were sent to prison yesterday, the state’s Commissioner for Finance, Dr Charles Osuala, whose name was also on the charge sheet was nowhere to be found.

But the EFCC yesterday said that Dr Osuala could only hide but that he could not run away from the long arms of the law.

Lagos lawyer, Mr Festus Keyamo is prosecuting the accused persons on behalf of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

But the charge was prepared and signed by Mr. Sylvanus Tahir, a Chief Legal Officer with the EFCC.

The accused persons were alleged to have breached certain provisions of the Money Laundering (Prohibition Act,) 2004.

Details of the offences are: That you, Francis Okokuro, Abbot T. Clinton, Ikobho Anthony Howells and Dr. Charles Sylva Osuala (now at large) sometime between October, 2009 and February, 2010, at various places in Nigeria, including Abuja, within the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court did conspire to commit a crime to wit: conversion of properties and resources amounting to N2,000,000,000.00 (Two Billion Naira) belonging to Bayelsa State Government and derived from an illegal act, with the aim of concealing the illicit origin of the said amount and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 17(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition Act), 2004 and punishable under Section 14(1) of the same Act.

COUNT 2:That you, Francis Okokuro, Abbot T. Clinton, Ikobho Anthony Howells and Dr. Charles Sylva Osuala (now at large) on or about the 22nd of January, 2010, at Abuja, within the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court, converted the sum of N380,000,000.00 (Three Hundred and Eighty Million Naira), property of the Bayelsa State Government, through the account of one Habibu Sani Maigidia, a Bureau De Change Operator with Account No. 221433478108, in Fin Bank, Plc, which sum you knew represented the proceeds of an illegal act with the aim of concealing the nature of the proceeds of the said illegal act and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 14(1) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition Act) 2004 and also punishable under section 14(1) of the same Act.

COUNT 3:That you, Francis Okokuro, Abbot T. Clinton, Ikobho Anthony Howells and Dr. Charles Sylva Osuala (now at large) on or about the 5th of February, 2010, at Abuja, within the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court, converted the sum of N50,000,000.00 (Fifty Million Naira), property of the Bayelsa State Government, through the account of one Enson Benmer Limited with Account No. 6152030001946, in First Bank, Plc, which sum you knew represented the proceeds of an illegal act with the aim of concealing the nature of the proceeds of the said illegal act and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 14(1) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition Act) 2004 and also punishable under section 14(1) of the same Act.

COUNT 4:That you, Francis Okokuro, Abbot T. Clinton, Ikobho Anthony Howells and Dr. Charles Sylva Osuala (now at large) on or about the 5th of February, 2010, at Abuja, within the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court, converted the sum of N20,000,000.00 (Twenty Million Naira), property of the Bayelsa State Government, through the account of one John Daukoru with Account No. 04800250000418, in United Bank for Africa, Plc, which sum you knew represented the proceeds of an illegal act with the aim of concealing the nature of the proceeds of the said illegal act and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 14(1) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition Act) 2004 and also punishable under section 14(1) of the same Act.

COUNT 5:That you, Francis Okokuro, Abbot T. Clinton, Ikobho Anthony Howells and Dr. Charles Sylva Osuala (now at large) sometime between October, 2009 and February, 2010, at various places in Nigeria, including Abuja, within the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court did conspire to commit a crime to wit: inducing Union Bank, Plc, with the intent to defraud, to deliver to Bayelsa State Government the sum of N2,000,000,000.00 (Two Billion Naira), under the false pretence of using the amount to augment salaries of the Bayelsa State Government and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 8(a) and punishable under section 1(3) of the Advance Fee Fraud and other Fraud Related Offences Act, 2004.

COUNT 6:That you, Francis Okokuro, Abbot T. Clinton, Ikobho Anthony Howells and Dr. Charles Sylva Osuala (now at large) sometime between October, 2009 and February, 2010, at various places in Nigeria, including Abuja, within the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court induced Union Bank, Plc, with the intent to defraud, to grant an overdraft facility of the sum of N2,000,000,000.00 (Two Billion Naira) to the Bayelsa State Government under the false pretence of using the amount to augment salaries of the Bayelsa State Government and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 1(1)(b) of the Advance Fee Fraud and other Fraud Related Offences Act, 2004 and punishable under section 1(3) of the same Act.


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