Bureau de change operator tells court how business partner allegedly defrauded him of N19.5m


By Adenike Ayodele

A bureau de change operator, Ali Nuhu, told an Ikeja Special Offences Court how  a man, Temitope Omogbeja allegedly defrauding him of N19.58 million on the pretext of supplying him with the dollar equivalent.

The News Agency of Nigeria NAN (NAN) reports that Omogbeja is standing trial alongside his company, Teejahm Integrated Service Ltd on a two count charge of stealing and obtaining money under false pretences.

The witness, while being led in evidence by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) counsel, Ms Chineye Okezie, told the court that he knew the defendant through a friend named Terrence.

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The bureau de change operator said  he paid the defendant N 19.58 million after he approached and told him that  he had 35,000 dollars in the U.S. to sell.

“After giving him the naira equivalent,  he sent me a mail that the bank  sent a mail telling him that the  35,000 dollars was paid to the  Wespalo account I gave him.

“I told him it was not a telex copy but  he said that was how they make their own payment and that I should confirm the following day. Nothing was in the account when I checked the following day.

“I informed the defendant that the money  was not there and he told me that I should wait for five working days the money will reflect. I did not receive any money.

“The defendant later told me that he will look for another money to send to the account but the owner of the money said since he can not pay in dollars, I should refund the naira equivalent,” he said.

The witness further told the court that he reported the case to  EFCC after the defendant relocated from Lagos to Abuja and all attempts made to retrieve the money from failed.

“After so much persistence, the defendant paid N1 million into my account and he has refused to pick my calls since then.

“I explained to the owner of the money who told me to report to EFCC after the defendant escaped to Abuja.

“The defendant did not honour the EFCC invitations and the commission later traced him and relocated him to Lagos,” the witness said.

During cross-examination by the defence counsel, Mr S.A. Adisa, the witness said  the payment was made Oct.8, 2021 and he  had known the defendant for seven years when they started a business relationship in 2014.

The bureau  de change operator confirmed that the business involved buying and selling and that the defendant had delivered in previous transaction.

He said that the account that the defendant was supposed to pay the 35,000 dollars was a company account and he does not have a personal relationship with the beneficiaries of the company.

“It is my brother who  knows the beneficiaries of the company and the woman whom my brother knows  from the company said she did not receive  the 35,000 dollars ,” he said.

The witness further confirmed to the court that his lawyer wrote the petition to EFCC on his behalf.

Justice Olubusola Okunuga adjourned the case until Dec. 1 for continuation of trial. (NAN)

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