N162m Fraud: Court Fixes Nov. 27, For Judgement of Unlicensed BDC Operator
A Federal High Court, Lagos, today, fixed November 27, 2020, for judgement in a criminal charge filed against an unlicensed Bureau De Change (BDC) Operators, Uju Peace Izuogu and Richard Owegie, by the Police Special Fraud Unit (PSFU), of the Nigeria Police, Ikoyi, Lagos
Justice Ayokunle Faji, who presided over the court, fixed the date, after taken arguments from the prosecution and defence team adoption of their written addresses on the charges against the two unlicensed BDC operators.
Uju and Richard alongside their company, Reoworld Enterprises Limited, were arraigned before the court on charges bordering on conspiracy, fraud, obtaining under false pretence and issuance of dud cheques.
They were accused of fraudulently obtained the sum of N162 million from a lawyer, one Nwosu Madubuchi, between the month of January and May, 2016, under false representation that they had US Dollars equivalent for immediate sell and transfer for the lawyer’s clients in Dubai and China, for international business transactions.
The offences according the prosecutor, Mr. Emmanuel Jackson, a Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP) are contrary to and punishable under sections 8(a) and 1(3), and 1(a) and 1(3) of the Advance Fee Fraud and other Fraud Related Offences Act No. 14 of 2014.
The two defendants who have been standing trial of the said allegations in a charge marked FHC/L/295c/2017, since September 4, 2017, have pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Following the not guilty plea, Justice Faji, admitted them to bail on various terms and conditions, but they were unable to fulfill the bail terms, hence they have been in the custody of the Nigerian Correctional Services (NCS).
During the defendants’ trial, the prosecution had called its witnesses and tendered several documentary evidence, which were admitted as exhibits against them.
In defence, Uju, told the court that she was not licensed to carry on the business of Bureau De Change (BDC) as at the time she carried out the transactions that led to her being charged to court. She also told the court that she benefited over N3 million on the said transactions as commission and gave her father the sum of N1 million of it. While admitting that she gave the second defendant, Richard Owegie, all the 18 accounts which the money were paid into.
At the resumed hearing of argument on written addresses today, counsel to the defendants, Mr E. E. Okoli urged the court to dismiss the prosecution case against his clients, on the premise that it failed to call the real owners of the money, whom he said are vital to the prosecution case.
Okoli said the failure of the prosecution to call these witnesses is fatal to their case and pleaded with the court to discharge and acquit his clients.
However, the prosecutor, Mr. Jackson in his response, urged the court to disregard Okoli’s submission, on the ground that Okoli failed to raise the issue during trial or in his final written submission and that he can not come in by ambush.
Jackson added that in any case, it is the prosecution who determines the witnesses that are vital to it’s case, adding that the Prosecution Witness 1 (PW1) Christian Madubuchi, is a vital witness in the instant case because he was the one that collected the money from other victims and transfer same to the account of the first defendant (Uju).
“He acted as the Trustee to the victims, he is the one who reported the mater to the police and not the other victims, he also owns N10m out of the money transfer to the account of the second defendant, so to us he is a vital witness”, Jackson stated.
Jackson therefore urged court to convict and sentence the defendants as charge.
Upon listened to the submissions of parties, Justice Faji Adjourned the matter till November 27, for judgment.
Meanwhile, the two defendants are facing another criminal charge before Justice Saliu Saidu of a Federal High Court, Lagos, in a charge marked FHC/L/348c/2017, the PSFU, while they are being prosecuted in another fraud charges before a Lagos High Court, by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).