The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission EFCC, on Friday June 1st, 2012 arraigned one Sylvanus Enonche Okoh alias Anthony Nwabueze before Justice Mudashiru Oniyangi of the FCT High Court sitting in Maitama, Abuja on an eight count charge bordering on fraud, conspiracy to commit fraud, obtaining under false pretence and forgery to the tune of sixteen million naira.
Prosecution counsel, Deborah Ademu-eteh had sought leave of the court for the charges to be read to the accused person and his plea taken. This was granted. After Okoh pleaded not guilty to all the eight count charge, Ademu-eteh prayed the court to remand him in prison custody and fix a date for the commencement of trial.
Defense counsel, Obinna Ugwu then applied for bail on behalf of his client, citing Section 36 (5) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended); and Sections 341 (2) a, b, & c of the Criminal Procedure Code.
He told the court that bail was solely at the discretion of the court and therefore urged that it should be exercised judicially and judiciously; taking into cognizance the fact that the accused person is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
Ademu-eteh however opposed the bail application, citing Sections 35 subsection 1 (c) of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; and section 341 (1) of the Criminal Procedure code which provide that bail should be denied in alleged offences that carry a sentence of more than 3 years imprisonment.
She further informed the court that the accused is a serial offender who is presently before Justice Kutigi of the FCT High Court under similar charges in a different matter; which implies that if he is granted bail there is the likelihood of him committing another crime.
Ademu-eteh also prayed the court to look into the proof of evidence before it and take cognizance of the overwhelming facts therein; and deny the accused person bail while granting accelerated hearing.
In his ruling, Justice Oniyangi observed that because the accused person seems to be a aerial offender with another similar case pending before the FCT High Court, with several others under investigation; he is inclined to deny the accused person bail. He directed that the accused be remanded in Kuje prison while adjourning the matter to June 12th, 2012 for commencement of trial.
Also,the EFCC on Thursday, May 31st, 2012 arraigned one Abubakar Soro before Justice B.O. Quadri of the Federal High Court, Gombe, on a 6 count charge bordering on possession and dealing in counterfeit United States Dollar notes. The offence is punishable under Sections 4 (1) and 5 (1) of the Counterfeit Currency (Special Provision) Act CAP C35 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.
The accused pleaded not guilty to all counts which were read and translated to him in Hausa, as he claimed he does not understand English.
Following the plea, counsel to EFCC, Ja’afar Al Qasim asked the court for a date to commence trial. Barrister S.O. Akporigo, counsel to the accused, raised no objection but notified the court of his intention to file a formal bail application in respect of his client.
Justice Quadri adjourned the matter to 21st June 2012 for hearing, while the accused was remanded in prison custody.
Abubakar Soro, 41, was arrested on 14th May 2012, by operatives from the Gombe zonal office of the Commission based on intelligence about a syndicate of fraudsters dealing in fake United States Dollar bills in Bauchi State. Alhaji Soro, who parades himself as a business mogul, was identified as the arrow head of the syndicate.
During investigation, 99 pieces of $100 bills, amounting to $9,900 were found on him. He claimed he bought them from Kano.
He however confessed to other fraudulent activities, including defrauding unsuspecting persons while posing as a spiritualist with powers to make people rich. He plies this trade both in Nigeria and Cameroun.
Explaining how the scam works, Alhaji Soro said whenever a prey falls for their bait; they would invite him to a room, where he is tricked into believing that an unseen voice promising to make him wealthy actually belongs to the spirit realm. In the desperation not to miss the opportunity to get rich such victims are asked to bring large sums of money for prayers. The demands are repeated severally until the fraudsters are satisfied they had sufficiently milked the victim; then they disappear.
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