Former Bank PHB Officials Plead Not Guilty to Conspiracy in Monumental EFCC Fraud Case
Three officials of Keystone Bank (formerly BANK PHB), have pleaded not guilty to EFCC charges of conspiracy in obtaining nearly a billion naira under false pretences from one Daniel Chukwudozie of Dozzy Oil & Gas Limited.
The three arraigned today, August 8, by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC,) were: Anayo Nwosu, Olajide Oshodi and Sunny Obaze. Also before Justice Habeeb Abiru of the Lagos State High Court sitting in Ikeja was the managing director of Nulec Industries Limited, Ashok Isran.
The suspects were arraigned on a two count charge bordering on conspiracy to obtain Eight Hundred and Fifty Five Million Naira (N855, 000,000.00)from one Sir Chukwudozie under the false pretence of paying for preference shares of Nulec Industries Limited in an upcoming Initial Public Offer. Nulec Industries Limited and Keystone Bank were also separately charged with the suspects.
Prosecution Counsel, Rotimi Jacobs urged the court to accept the information contained in the two count charge. Consequently, the defendants were invited to the dock. The charges were read to them and they pleaded not guilty.
Thereafter, Jacobs informed the court that he had received copies of bail application filed by the defence counsel. He said the prosecution will not oppose bail but urged the court to grant bail on stringent condition.
He told the court that the second defendant, Ashok Isran might not be available for trial if the bail condition was not stringent. Jacobs recalled that the accused had, in the course of the investigation, travelled out of the country and was away for three years.
"We want a condition that will ensure they will be in court for trial. I asked the Investigative Officer if they were admitted to administrative bail after their statements were taken, he said yes. So my Lord, it is just the condition we are interested in," Jacobs declared.
Uche Obi, who appeared for the 1st, 3rd and 4th defendants (Anayo Nwosu, Olajide Oshodi and Sunny Obazee), expressed satisfaction with the decision of the prosecution not to oppose bail and aligned himself with the position of the prosecuting counsel that the bail condition should be stringent. He said that the defendants are interested in clearing their names to continue with their careers; assuring that they will be available for trial.
A.A. Badejo SAN, counsel to Ashok Isran also appreciated the prosecuting counsel for not opposing bail, but pleaded with the court to grant his client bail on liberal terms. Badejo claimed it was not correct that his client travelled out in the course of the investigation, explaining that he made the trip before he was invited by the EFCC. “When he got information about the investigations, he made himself available and has been honouring invitations at various times by the EFCC”, Badejo said.
After listening to arguments from counsel, Justice Abiru granted the defendants bail on the following terms: The 1st, 3rd and 4th defendants are to produce a letter of undertaking signed by Keystone Bank’s Chairman and Managing Director. And, whenever any of the defendants fail to appear for trial, the bank will pay a fine of one hundred million naira (N100, 000,000.00) for each of the defendant on each day they fail to appear.
For the 2nd defendant, he was granted bail in the sum of fifty million naira (N50million) and two sureties in like sum. The sureties must be resident in Lagos, and have landed properties in Lagos state. The documents of the landed properties, to be verified with the Lagos state Land Registry, should be deposited with the court Registrar.
The sureties, who must be gainfully employed, are to show evidence of tax payment in the last two years.
The defendant’s International Passport should also be deposited with the court Registrar.
The judge also ruled that all the accused persons remain in the EFCC custody until the bail conditions are met.
The case was adjourned to October 22nd and 23rd, 2012 for commencement of trial.