Story By Gbenga Ogunbufunmi
A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos presided over by Justice Chuka Austine Obiozor , today further ordered the remand of Mr. Fidelis Egueke, the Asaba Branch manager of Zenith Bank Plc, who was charged before him on alleged N179. 498 million fraud, in the custody of Force Criminal Invested Department (ForceCID) Headquarters annex, Alagbon, Ikoyi, Lagos.
Justice Obiozor, further ordered the remand of the banker, for another seven days, at the instance of his counsel, Mr. C. A. Ajuyah (SAN), who pleaded with the court, to allow the defendant to be in the police custody rather than in the custody of of Nigerian Correctional Services (NCoS), pending when he would have perfect his bail terms.
ForceCID through its prosecutor, Mr. Morufu Animshaun, had on last Thursday, arraigned the banker, Fidelis, before the court on a three count-charge of conspiracy, obtaining by false pretence and fraud.
Arraigning the defendant, Animashaun had told the court that the defendant and others now at large, between May 14, 2010 and December 31, 2019, at No. 2 Balogun Close, Ikoyi, Lagos, conspired among yourselves to obtain the said sum from the Managing Director of Global Select Investment Services Limited, by false pretence that he will help him sell some goods and remit money to his bank.
He also told the court that the banker, upon selling the goods, diverted the proceeds to his account Zenith Bank Account Number 1020019782, while informed the fraud victim, that most of the goods he imported from USA were inferior and of low standard.
The prosecutor had told the court that the offences committed by the defendant, are contrary to Section 8(a) and 1(1) of the Advance Fee Fraud and other Fraud Related Offences Act No. 14 of 2006 and punishable under section 1(3) of the same Act. And Section 390 (7) Criminal Code Act Laws of Federation 2004.
The Zenith Bank manager had however denied the allegations.
Upon his denial, Justice Obiozor, had remanded him in ForceCID’s custody till today, for hearing and determination of his bail application.
At the resumed hearing of the matter today, the defendant’s counsel, Mr. Ajuyah (SAN), upon moving his application, told the court that his client has credible sureties to stand for him, adding that the defendant will not evade trial neither will he tamper or interfere with the prosecution’s evidences and witnesses.
However, the prosecutor, Mr. Animashaun, while vehemently opposed the application, said that the defendant is a ‘flight risk’, and that he may not turn up for his trial if granted bail.
Animashaun, therefore urged the court to refuse the application.
Justice Obiozor, while ruling on the counsel’s submissions and after citing plethoras of authorities, said: “granting bail to a defendant, is at court’s discretion”.
Consequently, Justice Obiozor, admitted the bank manager to bail in the sum of N50 million with one surety, who must be a resident within the court’s jurisdiction.
The judge also ordered that the surety my have evidence of three year tax payment, title deed and one year statement of account.
Justice Obiozor also ordered that all the bail terms must be verified by the court’s Deputy Chief Registrar (DCR).
Justice Obiozor while adjourned the matter till March 16, 24, 25, 30 and 31, 2021, for trial, ordered that the banker be remanded with the ForceCID, Alagbon, Ikoyi, Lagos, for seven days, after which he will be transfer to Nigerian Correctional Services’ custody.
Photo caption :
The defendant, Mr. Fidelis Egueke, in native attire, being taken away by the IPO, after his arraignment, Last Thursday