Alleged N10 Fraud: Court Admits Bizman Lanre Smith, To Bail

Lanre Smith, Who was Granted Bail By Justice Kala, Today

Justice Ibrahim Kala of a Lagos Federal High Court, has granted bail to a Nigeria businessman, Lanre Smith, in the sum of N30 million with two sureties in like sum.

Lanre was arraigned on an alleged N10 million fraud among others. The allegations he had denied and pleaded not guilty to all the charges 

Justice Kala granted the bail, seque to a motion filed and argued by the counsel to the defendant Akin Apara who urged the court to admit the defendant to bail on the most liberal term and conditions owing to the fact that the law still presumes him innocent until otherwise is proofed. 

The judge agreed with the defence’s submission and granted bail to the defendant in the sum of N30m and two sureties in like sum.

The sureties must be a Grade Level 14 at the government establishment and secondly, a landed property owner within the court’s Jurisdiction and the submission of his international passport with the court’s Deputy Chief Registrar (DCR).

However, after the  granting of the bail, the  prosecution counsel, Mike Enejere led the first witness, Inspector Ogunlola Stephen, of Interpol Section of Force CID Annex Alagbon, who told the court that upon the conclusion of the investigation, the followings findings emerged; “that the normal complaint and the defendants, are old team mate from the defunct Island football club.

“That the defendant approached the complainant for foreign transaction, and that the complainant availed his Well Fargo Account account in US For the transfer of the forex funds

“That the bone of contention from our investigation was the transaction of $26,000, USD, which the account of the norminal complainant is under investigation by the authority in US

Apara in a short cross examination tendered a statement of the investigating police officer Ogunlola Stephen who also is the first prosecution witness before Justice Faji where he stated that “culprit USIFO PRECIOUS residing in Benin has paid back the money so my investigation did not review anything wrong done by Mr Lanre Smith”).

The defendant, in his statement of facts, stated that: “he met the nominal complainant, Okwudili Okeke sometime in March 2014 in a football club in Lekki where they are both members.

“Okwudili Okeke sometime in 2016 approached him to help source for the sum of $40,000.00 or more. And that he had informed Okwudili Okeke not to pay dollar equivalent until the dollars had been delivered. 

“He approached one Mr. Ahmed Mukhaila who had informed him that Dollars was available for sale in the United States. And that he had informed Mr Ahmed Mukhaila that he will only accept cash from him so as to be certain that the funds were legitimately his.

“That Mr. Ahmed Mukhaila initially paid the sum of $20, 000.00 to Okwudili Okeke’s Wilok Wells Fargo account in the United States and provided him with the deposit slip showing the cash deposit which he then sent to Okwudili Okeke.

“That Okwudili Okeke paid the fair market value for the dollars to Pay Express, a company not operated by him (but the company that introduced Mr Ahmed Mukhaila to him). This money was then forwarded unto Mr Ahmed Mukhaila. And that Mr Ahmed Mukhaila thereafter provided him with a deposit slip for $26,000, USD. And that upon seeing the said slip noticed that it was not a cash deposit he immediately called Mr Ahmed Mukhaila to express his displeasure and instructed that same be recalled. 

“That Mr Ahmed Mukhaila thereafter put him on a conference call with some of his Bureau de Change colleagues who confirmed that the reason for the bankers cheque deposit was as a result of the volume of the money and that the bank will not accept cash deposit of the said volume. And that he then insisted that Mr Ahmed and his colleagues should sign an agreement to the effect that the said money is legitimate and that they will indemnify Lanre Smith against any liability as a result of the Funds.

“That Mr Ahmed Mukhaila and his colleagues agreed to sign the said agreement and further agreed that the money can be held for a period of 1 week after the money clears to prove that it was legitimate, and that Okwudili Okeke, paid the fair market value to Pay Express and same was forwarded to Mr Ahmed Mukhaila. No funds was ever paid by Okwudili Okeke to his account.

“That later Okwudili Okeke informed the police that his account in the United States had issues as it was reported that his account had received fraudulent funds, and that he was invited by the police and honour the invitation from Interpol and wrote his statement on what had transpired.

“And that the Interpol invited Mr Ahmed and his colleagues which includes Awulu Hassan, Saidi Sanni Paki, Huzeni Sanni Taeeb, Adigure Chares, Elizabeth Eki Aruoma and Anthony Ojo, who confirmed that they sold the USD in question. And that the Interpol recovered sums of money from the final individual including a Lexus Jeep and a Tipper vehicles which were handed over to Okwudili Okeke. And that he had provided the Interpol with the Indemnity Agreement and Mr Ahmed and his colleagues had corroborated his position that he has not been culpable of any wrong doings in their Statements made at Interpol.

“He is not the owner or has any interest whatsoever in Pay Express Limited. And that the matter had previously been struck out of court in 2020 for lack of diligent prosecution, when the Investigating Police Officer (IPO) had stated in open court that Lanre Smith was found to not have done anything wrong and the Court Ordered the Complaint to come to court.”

Meanwhile, the court has adjourned to March 24, for continuation of trial.