Alleged N1.4B Fraud: Court Orders Arrest Of 2 Akwa Ibom State Commissioners, Others

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Story by Gbenga Ogunbufunmi

 

A Federal High Court, Lagos presided over by Justice Rilwan Aikawa today ordered the arrest of Akwa Ibom State Attorney; General Mr Uwemedimo Thomas Nwoko, Commissioner for Finance; Nsikan Linus Nkan and the state Accountant General; Nfon Jacobson Udomah and one Margret Thompson Ukpe a Cashier in Akwa Ibom State government house.

The judge made the order sequel to an application moved by counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes  Commission( EFCC)), Mr Rotimi Oyedepo seeking for warrant of arrest against the officials whose names  appeared in the 1.4billion charge filed against the embattled President of the Nigerian Bar Association , NBA,  Paul Usoro (SAN).

EFCC had earlier today arraigned Uzoro before justice Aikawa on the allegations of converting to personal use, concealing the source of fund, disguising the origin of and retaining in his account the sums of money to the tune of N1.4 billion belonging to the Akwa Ibom State Government.

EFCC said Usoro committed the alleged offences in 2015 and in 2016.

Named as Usoro’s accomplices are: Akwa Ibom State Governor, Emmanuel Udom, whom it acknowledged is currently constitutionally immune to criminal prosecution, Uwemedimo Thomas Nwoko Attorney General, Nsikan Linus Nkan; Commissioner of Finance of the state, Mfon Jacobson Udomah, Accountant General of the state and Margaret Thompson Ukpe.

EFCC also said Usoro was paid with Awka Ibom State’s funds for legal services he rendered in his personal capacity to Udom, who was then a governorship candidate, but is now a governor.

EFCC listed its witnesses that would give evidence of their investigation, with exhibits and reveal their findings as Ibrahim Musa Miringa and Abdulrah Mohammed AraboIt, who were said to taken the statements of the suspects and witnesses, while documents recovered by them in the course of the investigation would also be tendered and analysed before the court.

EFCC added that Udom Idongesit Ekom would give evidence of the transaction source of the sum of N300,000,000.00 and how the account of Paul Usoro & Co was opened.

Also to give evidence before the court are, Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN), Tayo Oyetibo (SAN), Theophilus Oyesanya (SAN), Onyechi Ikeazu (SAN), Festus Jumbo and D.D. Dodo  who will give evidence of the legal services rendered for Emmanuel Udom, for which they received payments from the defendant.

Representatives of Zenith Bank, Access Bank, Diamond Bank, Standard Chartered Bank and will equally testify in the matter.

The charge against Usoro reads: Count 1: that you Paul Usoro (SAN), Emmanuel Udom (currently constitutionally immune to criminal prosecution), Uwemedimo Thomas Nwoko (still at large), Nsikan Linus Nkan (Commissioner of Finance Akwa Ibom State) (still at large), Mfon Jacobson Udomah (Accountant General of Akwa Ibom State) (still at large) and Margaret Thompson Ukpe (still at large), sometime in 2015 in Nigeria, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, conspired among yourselves to commit an offence, to wit: conversion of the sum of N1, 400, 000, 000 (one billion four hundred and ten million naira) property of Government of Akwa Ibom State of Nigeria, which sum you reasonably ought to have known forms part of the proceeds of an unlawful activity to wit: criminal breach of trust and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 18 (A) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 as amended and punishable under Section 15 (3) of the same Act.

Count 2: That you Paul Usoro (SAN), Emmanuel Udom (currently constitutionally immune to criminal prosecution), Uwemedimo Thomas Nwoko (still at large), Nsikan Linus Nkan (Commissioner of Finance Akwa Ibom State) (still at large), Mfon Jacobson Udomah (Accountant General of Akwa Ibom State) (still at large) and Margaret Thompson Ukpe (still at large) on or about the 14th day of March 2016 in Nigeria within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court converted the sum of N300, 000, 000 (three hundred million), property of the Government of AKwa Ibom State of Nigeria, which sum you reasonably ought to have known forms part of the proceeds of unlawful act to wit: criminal breach of trust and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 15 (2) (b) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 as amended and punishable under Section 15 (3) of the same Act.

Count 3: That you Paul Usoro (SAN), Emmanuel Udom (currently constitutionally immune to criminal prosecution), Uwemedimo Thomas Nwoko (still at large), Nsikan Linus Nkan (Commissioner of Finance Akwa Ibom State) (still at large), Mfon Jacobson Udomah (Accountant General of Akwa Ibom State) (still at large) and Margaret Thompson Ukpe (still at large) on or about the 14th day of March 2016 in Nigerian within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court concealed the sum of N300, 000, 000 (three hundred million), property of the Government of AKwa Ibom State of Nigeria, which sum you reasonably ought to have known forms part of the proceeds of unlawful act to wit: criminal breach of trust and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 15 (2) (a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 as amended and punishable under Section 15 (3) of the same Act.

Count 4: That you Paul Usoro (SAN), Emmanuel Udom (currently constitutionally immune to criminal prosecution), Uwemedimo Thomas Nwoko (still at large), Nsikan Linus Nkan (Commissioner of Finance Akwa Ibom State) (still at large), Mfon Jacobson Udomah (Accountant General of Akwa Ibom State) (still at large) and Margaret Thompson Ukpe (still at large) on or about the 14th day of March 2016 in Nigeria within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court disguised the origin of the sum of N300, 000, 000 (three hundred million), property of the Government of AKwa Ibom State of Nigeria, which sum you reasonably ought to have known forms part of the proceeds of unlawful act to wit: criminal breach of trust and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 15 (2) (a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 as amended and punishable under Section 15 (3) of the same Act.

Count Five: That you, Paul Usoro (SAN) on or about the 14th day of March, 2016 in Nigeria within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court used the sum of N300,000,000.00 (three hundred million Naira), property of Government of Akwa Ibom State of Nigeria which sum you reasonably ought to have known forms part of the proceeds of unlawful act to wit: criminal breach of trust and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 15(2)(d) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 as amended and punishable under Section 15(3) of the same Act.

Count Six: That you, Paul Usoro (SAN) on or about the 14th day of March, 2016 in Nigeria within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court used the sum of N300,000,000.00 (three hundred million Naira), property of Government of Akwa Ibom State of Nigeria in your Paul Usoro & Co’s account No. 1014604466 domiciled in Zenith Bank Plc which sum you reasonably ought to have known forms part of the proceeds of unlawful act to wit: criminal breach of trust and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 15(2)(d) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 as amended and punishable under Section 15(3) of the same Act.

Count Seven: That you, Paul Usoro (SAN) on or about the 24th day of August, 2015 in Nigeria within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court retained the sum of N530,000,000.00 (five hundred and thirty million Naira), property of Government of Akwa Ibom State of Nigeria in Paul Usoro and Company’s Clients’ account No. 0690123425 domicile in Access bank Plc which sum you reasonably ought to have known forms part of the proceeds of unlawful act to wit: criminal breach of trust and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 15(2)(d) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 as amended and punishable under Section 15(3) of the same Act.

Count Eight: That you, Paul Usoro (SAN) on or about the 18th day of September, 2015 in Nigeria within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court retained the sum of N40,000,000.00 (forty million Naira), property of Government of Akwa Ibom State of Nigeria in Paul Usoro and Company’s Clients’ account No. 0690123425 domicile in Access bank Plc which sum you reasonably ought to have known forms part of the proceeds of unlawful act to wit: criminal breach of trust and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 15(2)(d) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 as amended and punishable under Section 15(3) of the same Act.

Count Nine: That you, Paul Usoro (SAN) on or about the 3rd day of December, 2015 in Nigeria within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court retained the sum of N260,000,000.00 (two hundred and sixty million Naira), property of Government of Akwa Ibom State of Nigeria in Paul Usoro and Company’s Clients’ account No. 0690123425 domicile in Access bank Plc which sum you reasonably ought to have known forms part of the proceeds of unlawful act to wit: criminal breach of trust and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 15(2)(d) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 as amended and punishable under Section 15(3) of the same Act.

Count 10: That you, Paul Usoro (SAN) on or about the 27th day of August, 2015 in Nigeria within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court transferred the sum of N65,000,000.00 (sixty-five million Naira), property of Government of Akwa Ibom State of Nigeria from Paul Usoro and Company’s Clients’ account No. 0690123425 domicile in Access Bank Plc to Uwemedimo Thomas Nwoko (Hon. Attorney-General and Commissioner of Justice, Akwa Ibom State) which sum you reasonably ought to have known forms part of the proceeds of unlawful act to wit: criminal breach of trust and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 15(2)(d) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 as amended and punishable under Section 15(3) of the same Act.

Whille being arranged today, the defendant pleaded not guilty to the charge.

Defence counsel Ifedayo Adedipe, SAN, who lead other five senior advocate of Nigeria including Offiong O. Offiong, Olusina Sofola, Gorge Oguntade, A.T Kehinde and Essien Udoh applied that the defendant should be allowed to continue on the bail earlier granted by the first trial judge Muslims Sule Hassan, who however, returned the case file to the Chief Judge for reassignment consequent upon  allegations of bias by defence.

But Oyedepo oppose the application and urge Justice Aikawa to impose fresh conditions for bail because the case start afresh before him.

Consequently justice Aikawa in his short ruling admitted Usoro to bail in the sum of N250m and one surety in like sum

The judge said that the surety must either be a landed property owner within court jurisdiction or a civil servant who must not be less than a Director in the employment of Federal or state government.

In case of civil servant, the judge added that the credential must be verified.

The defendant must deposit his international passport with the court.

But the judge release Usoro to his lawyer Offiong O. Offiong SAN pending the fulfilment of the bail conditions which must be fulfilled within fourteen days from today

Justice Aikawa adjourned to 18th and 19th of March for trial.

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