N1.4bn Fraud: Court Denies Kogi Assembly Candidate, Two Others Bail

Wale Igbintade

Justice Tijjani Ringim of the Federal High Court in Lagos yesterday, turned down the bail request by the detained Kogi State House of Assembly candidate of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), Mr. Ismaila Yusuf Atumey, and two others accused of hacking the computer network of a bank and stealing N1,403,343,400.

Other defendants are Mr. Ngene Joshua Dominic, and Mr. Abdulmalik Salau.

The Defendants were arraigned by the Lagos Zonal Command of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on an 18-count charge before Justice Tijjani Ringim.

They pleaded not guilty and applied for bail through their Counsel, Mr. Bolaji Ayorinde (SAN).

But EFCC’s Counsel, Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo (SAN), opposed the application and prayed for an accelerated hearing of the matter.

Ruling on the application, Justice Ringim held that the defendants are flight risk, and the probability of them jumping bail is very high.

The court held that the magnitude of the offence is such that the defendants could interfere with the law enforcement procedure and run away.

Justice Ringim noted further that extradition procedures from anywhere in the world is such a cumbersome process.

“In all, I hold that the application for bail lacks merit and it is accordingly dismissed,” Ringim said.

He remanded the defendants in the Ikoyi Correctional facility and adjourned till January 24, 2023, for trial.

First defendant Atumeyi is the NNPP’s candidate for the Ankpa 11 Constituency for next year’s House of Assembly election in Kogi State.

The EFCC preferred an 18-count charge bordering on concealment of proceeds of fraud, money laundering and cybercrime against the defendants before the court.

The defendants were alleged to have hacked into the system of the commercial bank and defrauded the institution of over N1.4billion.

The court heard that they carried out a “modification of data held in the network of the bank, leading to the fraudulent transfer of the total sum of N1,403,343,400 to the account of Fav Oil and Gas Limited. 

The agency allegedly recovered N326 million and $140,500 from the black Escalade Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV) of one of the defendants during an operation at his hideout in Queens Estate, Gwarinpa.

Oyedepo told the court in a charge numbered FHC/L/651C/2022, that the defendants committed the alleged offences between August and October 2022 in Lagos.

He said that they conspired to “directly conceal” the N1.4 billion in the account of Fav Oil and Gas Limited, “which sum you reasonably ought to have known forms part of the proceeds of your unlawful activity and you thereby committed an offence contrary to sections 18 (a), 15 (2) (a) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act, 2011 as amended and punishable under Section 15 (3) of the same Act.

The defendants were accused of laundering the sum in tranches of N100 million, $480,000, N12.5 million, N7 million, N9 million, N7million, N12 million, N8 million, $140,000 and N326,400,000.

Specifically, they were alleged to have acquired N12.5 million black Mercedes Benz C300, N7 million BMW 3 Series, N9 million of Black Range Rover, N7 million Toyota Hilux 2014 upgraded to 2021, N12m Black BMW SURXI 2016, a N8 million White Toyota Hilux 2010 and a N10 million White Toyota Hilux.

The court also heard that they allegedly directly transferred N80 million to Frank Maya Intergrated Ventures, acquired a property known as No.8, Grace Crescent, EFAB Queens Estate, Gwarimpa, Abuja, concealed $140,000 and N326,400,000 in a Black Escalade SUV.

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