Lagos based businessman, Mr. Obi Chika Evans has told an Ikeja High Court how a former Head of Operations, Chinedu Eze-Akudo, at Fidelity Bank, Lekki had allegedly defrauded him and other customers to the tune of N144.8 million.
Eze-Akudo, who served as manager at the Victoria Garden city branch, was arraigned by the Economic and financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on a 9-count charge of stealing, thereby committing an offence punishable under section 390 (8)(b) and 285(1)(9)(b) of the criminal code, No. 34 Vol.44, Laws of Lagos State, 2011.
Led in evidence before Justice Kidirat Jose by the prosecution, Mrs I.O. Daramola, Evans told the court that one ‘Ifeanyi Alakare’, who was a cash officer at the time, approached him with a proposal of funding a customer’s Naira account with the incentive of buying U.S Dollars at a reduced rate.
“Ifeanyi told me that he is managing a client’s Dollar account and that his client would be willing to sell Dollars to me, at an agreed rate, using his client’s Naira account”.
” I agreed to the proposal and Ifeanyi gave me an account bearing Davoti Ventures Limited with Fidelity Bank, which I credited with the sum of N16, 350, 000 for one hundred thousand dollars($100,000)” at the rate of 165 per dollar.
Evans, who is the owner of Vabex Associate Limited, said “the transaction went smoothly for three consecutive occasions, which he usually gives me the dollar equivalent within 3-4 working days”.
“However, on the last transaction which I paid on April 24, 2014, with the same Naira amount(N16,350,000) to receive its dollar equivalent was never credited back to me as usual”.
“When I had patiently waited after the usual 3-4 working days for my money, I called him, but he kept saying he is yet to get the dollars from his client and suggested I should exercise patience. Having waited patiently for over a week, I decided to visit the bank but I was shocked when the bank authorities told me that Ifeanyi had resigned from the office the previous week”.
“So I kept calling his number and he refused to pick. I, thereafter, requested for his address and visited his house, only to meet his wife but he wasn’t at home. I beckoned on his wife to call him since he wasn’t responding to my call and she did. He came few hours later and informed me that he was just coming from the EFCC’s office”.
“Ifeanyi told me that he had gone there to lodge a petition against the defendant, Eze-Akudo, at the commission. He further told me that the accused was the owner of the account and I wasn’t the only person involved in the business.
He told me the owner had collected several sums from other customers through the same account and had refused to pay the dollar equivalent. I, immediately, reported the matter at Festac Police Station and Ifeanyi was detained”.
However, when asked during cross examination by the defence counsel, A. O. Okpalanozie, if he had ever met with the defendant, Evans said no, but that the transactions were conducted indirectly by him since he was the one that ordered Ifeanyi to aid him operate the account”.
“Ifeanyi had worked under Eze-Akudo at the bank and had been instructed to bring customers for the business”.
Meanwhile, other customers affected in the alleged business include: Mr Akaoma and his company, Akoma Global Resources Limited.- N32million, Mr chidaobi Ikechukwu- N8.2million, Mr Chizelunwa Ifeanyi and company-N 37.9million.