Dud Cheques: EFCC Arraigns Thompson Aguheva
Count one of the two count charge reads: “That you Engineer Thompson O Aguheva, being the Chief Executive Officer of Tafag Nigeria Limited and (2) Tafag Nigeria limited, a company registered in Nigeria on or about the 19th day of September 2010 in Abuja within the jurisdiction of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory did obtain credit by issuing an Equitorial Trust Bank Cheque no. 08477711 dated 19th September 2010 for Two Million, One Hundred and Twenty Six Thousand, Five Hundred and Ninety Naira (N2,126,590.00) in favour of Bedochi Guest House Limited, which cheque when presented for payment within three months of issuance, was dishonoured due to insufficient fund in the account to cover the face value of the cheques and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 1 (1)(b) of the Dishonoured Offences Act and punishable under Section 1(1)(b)(i)(ii) of the same Act”.
Aguheva’s ordeal followed a petition to the EFCC by the management of Bedochi Guest House complaining of his failure to pay up his indebtedness to the Guest House after staying as a guest for about two years. Specifically, Aguheva wrote an undertaking dated September 9, 2011 to the management of the Guest House that he would liquidate his debts within three months effective September 30, 2011, but he reneged on his promise. The two cheques he had issued earlier were dishonoured by Equitorial Trust Bank.
On April 29, 2011, Aguheva issued an Equitorial Trust Bank Cheque no 0847730 for Three Million, Six Hundred and Sixty Nine Thousand One Hundred and Thirty Thousand Naira (N3, 669,130.00) in favour of Bedochi Guest House Limited which cheque when presented for payment within three months of issuance was dishonoured due to insufficient fund to cover the face value of the cheque. He had on September 19, 2010, issued an Equitorial Trust Bank Cheque no 08477711 for Two Million, One Hundred and Twenty Six Thousand, Five Hundred and Ninety Naira (N2, 126,590.00) in favour of Bedochi Guest House Limited which cheque when presented for payment within three months of issuance was dishonoured due to insufficient fund in the account to cover the face value of the Dishonoured Cheques.
When the charges were read to him, he pleaded not guilty, a development which made the Prosecution Counsel, Barrister Michael O. Nzekwe to urge the court to remand the accuse person in prison custody till the next adjourned date.
But Defence Counsel, Gabriel Obunezi, made an appeal for bail on the grounds that the accused will be available for trial. He further argued that his client has health challenge as he is hypertensive adding that the court should take cognisance of the fact that the crime is bailable.
Nzekwe, while opposing the application for bail, noted that the court is a court of record and the application for bail should come formally and in writing. He also told the court that the accused person had jumped bail for over 5 months. “Considering the extent the prosecution went in ensuring the arrest of the accused, I strongly oppose granting of bail; but if the court must grant bail, it should be on strict conditions”, he prayed.
The judge however granted bail to the accused in the sum of N10 million with one surety in like sum. The court further ruled that the surety, who must swear to affidavit of means, must be within the jurisdiction of the court. “He must be a responsible Nigerian with statutory landed properties with Certificate of Occupancy, evidence of tax payment as of when due for the past 3 years”, Justice Adeniyi said.
While adjourning the case to October 22 and 23, 2012, for trial, the judge said that the accused be taken to Kuje prison pending the fulfilment of the bail condition.