Story By Gbenga Ogunbufunmi
A customer with First Bank Plc, Mr Afolabi Nasiru, has told a Special Offences Court, Ikeja, Lagos, how his account with the bank was used in perpetrating N14 million fraud.
Afolabi, a media agent and a school proprietor, made the sterling revelations while defending himself before Justice Mojisola Dada of the Lagos High Court, where he is standing trial for alleged N14 million fraud.
Afolabi is being tried before the court alongside Bamidele AbdulMumuni and Olorunwa Babatunde Idowu on the alleged fraud by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The Media proprietor and others are facing a 40 count-charge of conspiracy and stealing.
Upon their arraignment, the second defendant, Bamidele AbdulMumuni, who is an estate developer pleaded guilty to all the count charges and he was convicted accordingly, but both Afolabi and Olorunwa Babatunde Idowu, denied the allegations, which pave ways for their trial.
Opening his defence, Afolabi, introduced himself as a Media Advert Agent and proprietor of Parent Joy Children Schools.
He told the court that he met the second defendant, Idowu, a Marketing Officer of the First Bank Plc, through a bulk teller Babatunde Fagbenro, who always assist him when there is large crowd in the bank.
He said, “Fagbenro normally assist me when there is crowd in the banking hall. He introduced me to Babatunde when I needed assistance on the international visa for school fees of my son which require traffic in my bank account
“Olorunwa Babatunde then told me that he knew a willing customer that can assist me to facilitate traffic in my account. He collected my Corporate account details of the advert agency and the school, few weeks after, I got alert of N3 million credit in my account.
”After, I informed Olorunwa and he advised me to issue a cheque to return the money back to the sender, who was Abdul Mumuni Bamidele, whom I never met before in my life and one Prof Alaba Emmanuel among others ,who are paying into my account.
“Anytime money enters into my account he always urged me to issue cheque to return the money to the sender.
“I normally return the exact amount to every sender for each transaction. I have not for once have financial benefits from such transaction, my intention is to generate traffic base on the advice of my travelling agent.
“I don’t know how they usually return the money back to the sender. I could have notice this problem if my money is missing, but my money is in intact from every transaction debit charges”.
When asked by his counsel how he knew that there was a problem, he replied that, when he was admitted in a private hospital for treatment of diabetes, he tried to pay for his medical bill, but was not successful.
Nasiru said that when he tried to use ATM to make withdrawal, it was then that he discovered that his account has been blocked.
“Upon enquiry I discovered that it was EFCC that blocked my account based on investigation. I went to EFCC Office in Ikoyi for verification and rectification and I met the secretary of the agency, who directed me to Team B of the cybercrime section.
“I met a senior officer, Mrs Omolola Oyalowo in that unit, they asked whether I know one Abdul-Mumuni Bamidele and my thinking was that may be the bankers have not been remitting the funds back to the sender.
“I was later told that Abdul-Mumuni Bamidele and others at large commit a fraud which led to blockage of my account.
“They showed me their photographs but I didn’t recognize anyone among them. I was detained for 16 days and the commission seized my personal items.
“I facilitated arrest of Olorunwa and Fagbenro, on the day of the arrest but Babatunde Fagbenro escaped through the rear door of the bank. It was only Olorunwa that was arrested on that day.
“The following day, Fagbenro came to EFCC office, the two bankers came to my cell to apologise to me, I had never been detained.
“I was granted administrative bail on November 2018 and I diligently complied with all the conditions in the bail.
“In Primea Media account, I had N6.5 million which doesn’t belong to Prof Alaba Emmanuel, the complainant, it’s not a proceed of crime, it’s my hard earn money. The money was meant for the payment of my customers such as Punch and Guardian Newspapers. Most of the money in my account are paid in by customers for job yet to be executed.
“My contact in Guardian Newspapers, who normally arranged credit facilities for me was arrested by Zone 2 as regards the debt. He was later released when I signed undertaking that immediately my account is unblocked I will settle the bill”.
His counsel therefore applied for admissibility of the letter of debt from Punch, Guardian and Landlord as exhibit in the matter which was not opposed by other counsel.
The letter was admitted and marked exhibit D6, 7 and D8.
Earlier, Olorunwa Idowu, while being cross examined, told the court that he worked with First bank Plc for the period of 10 years and admitted given Nasiru’s account out to Bamidele AbdulMumuni now a convict. He explained that he doesn’t knows the source of the money.
After listening to their testimony, Justice Dada directed counsel to both parties to within the stipulated time by law file their final written addresses for judgement. While subsequently adjourned the matter till September 30, 2020.