Story By Gbenga Ogunbufunmi
A travel agent, Joe Okereke, was today, arraigned before the Federal High Court, Lagos, for allegedly defrauding three persons of the sum of N10.5 million.
Okereke was alleged to have defrauded his victims of the said amount under the pretence of procuring Fiji Island visa for them.
The three victims are: Jekwu Ezenwa, Pope Ekenna Nworah and Kenneth Dibor.
The defendant was arraigned by men of Force Criminal Intelligence and Investigation (ForceCIID) Alagbon-Ikoyi, Lagos, on seven counts charge bordering on conspiracy, obtaining under false pretence and fraud.
The offences according to the prosecutor, Barrister Morufu Animashaun are contrary to sections 8, 1(1)(a) of the Advance Fee Fraud Act, 2006 and punishable under sections 1(3) of the same Act.
The offence is also said to be contrary to section 383(1)(a) of the criminal code Act Cap. 38, laws of the federation, 2004 and punishable under section 390 of the same Act.
Arraigning the defendant before the court today, the prosecutor, Barrister Animashaun, told the court that the defendant and others now at large, conspired among themselves and defrauded their victims of the said amount.
He also informed the court that in convincing the fraud victims to part with the monies, the defendant told them that he is an embassy official and capable of procuring Visa to Fiji Island for them.
Animashaun further told the court that before the defendant’s arraignment today, he had been formerly remanded in prison custody by an order of a magistrate court.
However, the defendant, upon the reading of the charges to him pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Following the defendant’s not guilty plea, Animashaun while asking the court for accelerated hearing of the charge, urged the court to remand him in prison till the determination of the matter.
However, the defendant’s lawyer, A. C. Onyejeka, told the court that he had filed a motion for defendant’s bail and urged the court to admit his client to bail in the most liberal terms, as he is presumed to be innocent until contrary is proven.
Responding, the prosecutor, Animashaun, urged the court to refuse the bail application as the defendant is likely to jump bail if granted. And that he is likely to interfere with the prosecution’s witnesses.
Delivering ruling on the application, Justice Nicholas Oweibo, conceded to the defendant’s request and admitted him to bail in the sum of N20 million with two sureties in like sum.
Justice Oweibo also ordered that one of the sureties must be a civil servant on Grade Level 10, in the establishment of Lagos State or Federal government. And the other surety must be a landed property owner within the court’s jurisdiction.
The jugde also ordered that the sureties must deposed to affidavit of means with their two recent passport photographs and that all the terms must be verified by the prosecution.
Justice Oweibo ordered that the defendant be remanded in prison custody until the satisfaction of the bail terms, while adjourned the matter till November 21 for trial