N5.1bn Armsgate: court hears trial of heritage Bank ex-branch manager April 3

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Justice Mohammed Idris of the federal high court in Lagos will on April 3, continue with the trial of an ex-manager with Heritage Bank Plc, Iwejuo Joseph Nna.

Nna is standing trial alongside Mr. Waripamo-owei Dudafa, a former Special Assistant on Domestic Affairs to President Goodluck Jonathan, and five limited liabilities companies on 23 counts charge bordering on the alleged offence.

Read also: Court to hear suit seeking Magu’s removal on Feb. 13.

During the proceedings, a witness of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Folorunsho Ademola, had narrated before the court how the former manager with Heritage Bank operated accounts of companies mentioned in the alleged N5.1 billion armsgate.

The companies charged alongside the two accused persons are; Seagate Property Development & Investment Limited, Ebiwise Resources Limited; Avalon Global Property Development Company Limited; Lutato Interservices Limited and Pluto Property and Investment Company Limited.

Both Dudafa and Nna were alleged to have used the companies to commit the alleged offences.

It will be recalled that an Operation Manager with the Yenogoa branch of the bank, Folorunsho while being led in evidences-in-Chief by the EFCC’s prosecutor, Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo, informed the court that the former branch manager, Nna, was the one carrying out both the lodgment and withdrawals of funds from the companies’ account.

Folorunsho also informed the court that the former branch manager of Heritage Bank informed him and some members of the bank during interrogation at the EFCC office that he is the one signing for the account of the companies both for lodgement and withdrawals of money. Adding that he never saw operators of the accounts, whose names are on the mandate forms.

In confirming that the companies have the accounts with the bank, the EFCC prosecutor tendered certification of account document, containing opening account form, statement of account and mandate forms.

However, lawyers to the accused persons, Mr. Gboyega Oyewole and Sunday Aburume, objected to the tendering of the documents on the ground that the witness was not the author of the documents, and that the witness was not the person that signed the document.

But the prosecutor, Oyedepo urged the court to discountenance the objection raised by the accused lawyers, saying that the documents were generated by the bank, and that the witness is a bank official

Narrating how monies were transferred into the account of Seagate Property and Investment Company Limited, the prosecution witness informed the court that between June 18, 2013 and June 17, 2015, the sum of N220.5 million were transferred into the account by the former manager using the names of Abubakar Murtala, Namudu Ventures limited, and Yumusa Oil Services.

While between March 10, 2014 and December 19, 2014, the sum of N198.8 million was lodged into the account of the Avalon Property and Investment Company Limited, by the same Abubakar Murtala, Namudu Ventures limited, and Yumusa Oil Services.

The Heritage Operation manager further stated that between February 27, 2015 and June 2, 2015, the sum of N108 million was lodged into the account of Pluto property and Investment Company Limited, by Abubakar Murtala, Namudu Ventures limited, and Yumusa Oil Services and 313 Bureau de Change firm. While the sum of N120 million was deposited into the account of Ebiwise Resources Limited, by the same persons.

The prosecution witness, however, informed the court that he never saw the persons the branch manager mentioned as the depositors of the monies.

However the witness while being cross-examined by the lawyer to Dudafa, Mr. Gboyega Oyewole, said the signatures used for the companies by the branch manager were not the same as he used in his official duty. He also stated that it is not compulsory for him to see those named as directors of the companies before monies are lodged and withdrawn from the accounts.

Prior to the commencement of the trial of the accused persons, attempt by their lawyers, Mr. Oyewole and Aburume, to have their bail conditions varied met a brick wall, as the prosecutor, Mr. Oyedepo, informed the court that he need time to respond to the application filed by their lawyer.

Informing the court about the application, Oyewole informed the court that it has been difficult getting the bail conditions meet, he therefore urged the court to consider the application for bail variation.

However, the presiding judge, Justice Mohammed Idris, has adjourned both the hearing of the bail variation’s application and continuation of trial till September 26.

It would be recalled that at the duo were arraigned before the court by the
anti-graft agency on 23 count-charge bordering on alleged N5.1 billion fraud, by the EFCC, and they had pleaded not guilty to all the counts charge.

In the charge EFCC alleged that Dudafa, and Joseph Nna, who also claimed to be Taiwo Ebenezer and Olugbenga Isaiah, had between June 11, 2013, and June 2015, used the named companies to fraudulently steal the commit the alleged offences.

The count one of the charge read in parts; “that you,Warpamo Owei Emmanuel Dudafa, and Iwejuo Joseph Nna (a.k.a. Taiwo Ebenezer and Olugbenga Isaiah), on or about the 11th day of June, 2013 in Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court conspired amongst yourselves to commit an offence, to wit: Concealing the proceeds of crime in the sum of N 1, 667,162,800.00 (One Billion, Six Hundred and Sixty Seven Million, One Hundred and Sixty Two Thousand, Eight Hundred Naira), and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012 and punishable under Section 17(a) of the same Act.”

And count 23 reads; “That you, Warpamo Owei Emmanuel Dudafa, on April 27, 2016 in Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court failed to furnish any information in relation to your interest in Ibijige Services Limited as required in page 12 of the Declaration of Assets Form and thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under section 27 (3) (c) of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (Establishment) Act 2004.”

The alleged offences are contrary to and punishable under sections 17(a), 18(c), and 27 (3) (c) of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (Establishment) Act 2004.

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