June 9, 2009

N15bn fraud: Transcorp MD, 2 others remanded till June 22

By Ise-Oluwa Ige
A Federal high Court sitting in Abuja yesterday issued a fresh order remanding the Group Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Transnational Corporation of Nigeria (Transcorp), Mr. Tom Iseghohi and two others in Kuje prisons till June 22.

They were sent to prison yesterday after the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), opposed their request for bail pending their trial.

Iseghohi and his alleged accomplices are standing trial before the court over alleged perpetration of fraud involving N15 billion.

The two others are Messrs Mike Okoli and Mohammed Buba.

Okoli and Buba are the Deputy General Manager and the Legal Adviser cum Company Secretary of Transnational Corporation of Nigeria Plc respectively.

The Transcorp MD almost betrayed his emotion yesterday after the judge, Justice Anwuri Chikere, renewed her order remanding him and two others in prisons.

He found it difficult to look at the faces of his sympathisers who thronged the courtroom to give him support.

But one of his lead counsel and member of the inner bar advised him to be a man, saying all the government wanted to do was to break his spirit.

He advised him not to allow government to achieve its objective of breaking his spirit.

Iseghohi braced up immediately and decided to express appreciation to those that came to give him support.

But as much as he tried to conceal his inner feelings, his lugubrious look gave him out.

In the charge preferred against all the accused persons by EFCC, they were alleged to have conspired with one another to perpetrate the N15 billion fraud between July 10, 2007 and March 2, 2009.

Specifically, they were accused to have criminally conspired to conceal the said fund through fraudulent issuance of contracts, payment of legal fees, consultancy fees, professional fees, placement of advertisement, public relations among others.

Meanwhile, the accused persons have sued EFCC before the same Abuja High Court for what they called illegal detention. They are claiming N2 billion as damages.

In the action filed by their counsel, Chief Joe-Kyari Gadzama (SAN), the trio want the Judge, Folashade Ojo, to declare their continued detention as “unconstitutional, unlawful, illegal and a violation of the applicants’ fundamental right under section 35 and 41 of the 1999 Constitution.”