Hope Olusegun Aroke, a Malaysia-based undergraduate fraudster and three others, Ibrahim Garuba Tafida, Tafida Gano Investment Limited and Hopes and Oyin Limited were today arraigned before Justice Mohammed Idris of the Federal High Court, Lagos on two separate charges bordering on false assets declaration, conspiracy and conversion of fund to the tune of over N55million.
The first accused Aroke was arraigned on both charges. He was first docked on a three count charge that borders on false declaration of assets, while all four accused persons were later arraigned on a four count charge of conspiracy and conversion of funds.
One of the charge reads: “That you, Hope Olusegun Aroke (m), Ibrahim Garuba Tafida (M),Tafida Gano Investment Limited and Hopes and Oyin Limited between September and October, 2012 at Lagos within the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court conspired to convert the sum of N31,000,000 (Thirty One Million
Naira) to the credit of Tafida Gano Investment Limited and Hopes and Oyin Limited account domiciled in Zenith Bank Plc which sum you knew represent the proceeds of crime with the aim of concealing the nature of the proceeds of the said crime and thereby committed an offence punishable under section 14(1)(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition)Act, 2004”.
The accused persons pleaded not guilty to all the charges. Consequently, prosecution counsel, Hauwa Abubakar urged the court to give a short date for trial and that the first and second accused persons are remanded in prison custody.
Defence Counsel, T.O Taiwo, told the court that he had filed applications for bail and had served the prosecution since January 18, 2013. He also told the court that the second accused person, Ibrahim Tafida, had been offered administrative bail by the EFCC and did not default. He, therefore, prayed the court to allow him continue with the bail earlier granted him or remand him in EFCC custody should the court decides otherwise.
Justice Idris consequently offered Tafida bail in the sum of N10million and one surety in like sum. The surety must have a landed property within the jurisdiction of the court. He also ruled that Tafida should be remanded in prison custody until he meets the bail conditions. Justice Idris also ruled that the first accused person, Hope Olusegun Aroke be remanded in prison custody and adjourned the case till January 25, 2013 for hearing of Aroke’s bail application.
Aroke, together with one other Malaysia-based undergraduate, was arrested in the closing week of 2012 by operatives of the EFCC at the elite 1004 housing estate, Victoria Island, Lagos. His accomplice, Ibrahim Tafida is a Bureau De Change operator through whom Aroke was able to launder proceeds of scam to the tune of N55, 050, 000.00k (Fifty Five million, fifty thousand naira only).
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N5.2Bn REA Scam: Senator Ugbane, Two Others To Be Re-Arraigned
Former Chairman, Senate Committee on Power, Senator Nicholas Yahaya Ugbane; his former House of Representatives counterpart, Hon. Ndudi Elumelu and Hon. Jibo Mohammed who are being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC in a case of breach of due process, criminal conspiracy, diversion and misappropriation of public funds to the tune of N5.2 billion are to be re-arraigned before a Federal Capital Territory High Court.
They are expected to take fresh plea before Justice Mudashiru Oniyangi of the FCT High Court, Abuja on February 1, 2013.
The re- arraignment is sequel to the re-assignment of the case following the withdrawal of former trial judge, Justice Adebunkola Banjoko.
Ugbane and his co- accused were initially arraigned on October 30, 2009 on a 130 count charge together with six senior officials of the Rural Electrification Agency. The charges were subsequently separated with the lawmakers jointly facing a 62-count charge and the other six accused facing a 68-count charge.
At today’s session, the accused persons could not be re-arraigned owing to the absence of the third accused, Hon.Jibo Mohammed who was neither represented nor gave reason for his absence, a development which prompted the prosecution counsel, Onjefu Obe to pray the court for a bench warrant to effect his arrest.
Obe had agued that “when an accused person in a criminal case as in the one at hand fails to appear and nothing to show why he was not in court, irrespective of who the person is, the prosecutor has the right to ask the court to issue a bench warrant against such accused for him to come and explain why he was not present at the court”.
Defence counsel, Mr. Ikwueto (SAN) whose appearance was for the second accused, came to the rescue of Jibo. According to him, the third accused person was not aware of today’s adjournment. “Since the date was not communicated to him, it would be wrong for the court to issue a bench warrant against him”, he said.
After ascertaining that the third accused may not have been informed about the new date, the Judge asked the EFCC counsel whether he was going ahead with his earlier application to which he replied; “EFCC is not in court solely to prosecute but to promote justice”. He thereafter, withdrew the application to issue bench warrant on the third accused person.
Consequently, the case was adjourned to 1 February, 2013.
….$188,858 Smuggling: Suspect Changes Plea
A mild drama occurred at the Federal High Court, Abuja on Monday 21 January, 2013 when one Abdulrasheed Ibrahim who had on January 17, pleaded guilty to the money laundering charge preferred against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, made a dramatic volte face by changing his plea from guilty to not guilty.
The accused who was arraigned on 17th January, 2013, before Justice Adamu Bello on a one count charge of money laundering pleaded guilty to the charge and Justice Bello subsequently adjourned to January 21 for sentencing.
At today’s sitting, I. A. Azuamah, counsel to Abdulrasheeed Ibrahim told the court that he had filed a motion on notice to change the plea from guilty to not guilty. However, the prosecution counsel, Chioma Okongwu, consequently asked the court for time to study the motion and respond accordingly.
Azuamah moved an oral application for bail on behalf of the accused person. He told the court that the accused was granted administrative bail by the EFCC and that the offence for which he was arraigned was bail able. His application was opposed by EFCC counsel who said the administrative bail had elapsed upon the accused arraignment.
However, Justice Bello granted bail to the accused in the sum of N1 million (One Million Naira), one surety with evidence of a landed property within the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court.
The accused person is to remain in prison custody until he perfects his bail terms. The case has been further adjourned to 23rd January, 2013 for hearing on the motion on notice.
Ibrahim was arrested on Wednesday November 7, 2012 by operatives of the Commission as he prepared to board a Dubai, United Arab Emirates bound Ethiopian Airline. A total of $188,858 (one hundred and eighty eight thousand, eight hundred and fifty eight United States Dollars) was found on him. He had declared only the sum of forty five thousand USD ($45,000) but a search revealed additional $143, 858.
The charge against the accused reads: “That you Abdulrasheed Ibrahim on or about the 7th of November 2012 at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja within the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court while transporting in cash the sum of US 188,858.00(One hundred and eighty eight thousand, eight hundred and fifty eight United States dollars)only from Nigeria to Dubai, United Arab Emirates falsely declared to the Nigerian Customs Service the sum of $45000.00 (forty five thousand United State dollars) only instead of the said sum of US$188,858.00 as required under section 12 of the foreign exchange (monitoring and miscellaneous provisions) Act Cap. F34 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 and Section 2(3) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 and thereby committed an offence punishable under section 2(5) of the money laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011”.