By Davies Iheamnachor – Port Harcourt
A Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State has sentenced a former Branch Manager of the defunct Cooperative Development Bank, Aba, Abia State, Adekunle Oyeobu, to two and half years in prison for granting unauthorised loans to three different customers.
The ruling was contained in a matter between the Federal Republic of Nigeria against Adekunle Oyeobu and Ors. in suit number FHC/PHC/12C/2001.
The Nigerian Deposit Insurance Corporation, NDIC, had in 2001 three years after the incident instituted the matter to recover the fund loaned out, following petitions from bank customers who were affected by the unauthorized loan granted by Oyeobu and others.
NDIC had slammed six charges bordering on conspiracy and granting of unauthorised loan to three debtors, but the court found him, Oyeobu guilty on count 2, 4 and 6 of the charges.
Count two of the charge read: “That you Adekunle Benedict Oyeobu (M) whilst being the manager of Cooperative Development Bank Plc Faulks Road Branch, Aba between 1997 and 1999 at Aba did recklessly grant unauthorized credit facility to the tune of N12.559,000.00 (Twelve Million, Five Hundred and Fifty Nine Thousand Naira) to Chief Christian Anuebunwa Chairman & Chief Executive Officer of & C Motors Nigeria Ltd contrary to the accepted practice of the said Bank and you thereby committed an offence contrary to section 19(1)0) of Failed Banks and other Financial Malpractices in Banks Decree (No 18) of 1994 as amended and punishable under section 20 (1)a) of the Failed Banks and other Financial Malpractices in Ban Decree (No 18) of (1994) as amended.”
NDIC in all the charges alleged that a total of N34.6 million was criminally converted by the bank manager having failed to follow the guideline of the bank and the sen standard of banking.
However, in his decision yesterday, the trial judge, Hon. Justice Ayokunle Faji, convicted Oyeobu of issuing of unauthorized loan.
Faji also ordered Oyeobu to return N7.6 million through the NDIC, adding that the payment should be made within six months.
He noted that the attitude of Oyeobu was a contravention of the law, noting that it was such attitudes that affected the banking industry in the past.
The judged also stated that the manager of the bank granting loan without authorization was an act of recklessness and deserved vilification.