A businessman, Austin Albert Ugochukwu, today, narrated before a Federal High Court, Lagos, how a former member of the House of Representative representing Eti-Osa Federal Constituency of Lagos State, Anthony Akala, and other members of his gang defrauded him of the sum of N240 million, under the pretence of assisting him to convert the money which was in Naira denomination to American dollars.
Akala also known as General and others were arraigned before Justice Hadiza Rabiu-Shagari of the Federal High Court, Lagos on charges bordering on conspiracy, fraud, and obtaining under false pretence, by men of Force Criminal Intelligence and Investigation Department (FCIID), Alagbo-Ikoyi, Lagos.
Standing trial along Honourable Akala are: Saidi Oke, Bashir Mohammed: and Alhaji Umar Ali.
Two companies: Grantland Investment Nigeria Limited and Abroad Development Foundation were also charged.
At the resumed trial of the accused person today, the fraud victim, Austin Albert Ugochukwu, while being led in evidence -in- chief by the Prosecutor, Dr. Imam A. Usman, told the court that after the arrest of the defendants, the third accused, Bashir Mohammed, informed the team of investigators set up by the Deputy Commissioner of Police (DC) Intelligence FCIID, Abuja, that the nickname of the first accused Akala, is ‘General’, and that he was not part of their gang.
Ugochukwu stated that further investigation by the DC, Intelligence revealed that the former House of Representative member, Akala, is actually the one called ‘General’, by his associates.
Ugochukwu added that immediately Akala realised that his identity has been revealed as ‘General’, he quickly deleted his social media handles and pleaded with him to settle the case amicably.
Ugochukwu further told the court that during negotiation between him, his lawyer and the accused, the first accused, Akala, pleaded with him to convince the DC Investigation to release him from detention so that he can return the money defrauded him in two weeks.
” The first accused offered me two properties in lieu of the money and he wrote a statement to that effect, but my lawyer said they could not establish any nexus between Akala and the two properties, hence the rejection of such deal” Ugochukwu said.
Upon the rejection of Akala’s offer, the witness said the first defendant (Akala) vowed that if he (Ugochukwu) did not accept the offer, he should stop disturbing him, and that he will deal with the DC Investigation and other police officers involved in the case.
” True to his words, both DC Investigation, the Area Commander of Area J, Lagos, and Area Crimes Officer, of the Command, were transfered out of the offices and stations.
Earlier, the fraud victim, Ugochukwu, had told the court how the first accused, Akala and other accused persons, had threatened to kill him if did not stop pursuing the case.
He also told the court how he was tricked by the alleged fraudsters to transfer the sum of N350 million to them with the promise that they will instantly give him $1 million cash in exchange, but only to be given $20,900.
The witness also told the court how the alleged fraudsters carried out their heinous act through, First City Monument Bank (FCMB).
Following the revelation made by the witness, the Prosecutor, Dr. Imam, urged the court to summon the banks and issued a hearing notice. The request which was consequently granted by the presiding judge.
Narrating his ordeal before the court, the fraud victim, Ugochukwu, told the court how each of the accused persons induced him to give them the sum of N350 million in exchange for $1 million, and how they reneged only to give him $29, 900, 000.
He added that when the accused persons refused and failed to balance him as promised, he reported the matter at Area J Police Command, before it was transferred to the IGP Monitoring team, Abuja.
Meanwhile the court has, again, renewed its earlier bench warrant issued against Dr. Chukwuemeka Cyraicus Anyanwu, 50, Agboola Rasheed Gbade, 67, Nkechi Nwafor, 43 and Larry Balogun Otunba, 51, who were also mentioned in the charge.
The police in the amended charge marked FHC/L/327c/2017, alleged that the four suspects and others now at large, had on June 15, 2017, at Lekki area of Lagos State, conspired among themselves to obtain the sum of N312.2 million part of N359 million, from Austin Albert Ugochukwu under false pretence of selling to him $1 million.
The police also alleged that after they have fraudulently received the money from the victim, they converted same to their personal use.
The offences according to the prosecution are contrary to sections 8(b) and 1(3) and punishable under sections 1(3) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Related Offences Act, 2006.
Meanwhile, the matter has been adjourned till next month.