By Gbenga Ogunbufunmi
Men of the Force Criminal Investigation Department (ForceCID) Annex, Alagbon-Ikoyi, Lagos, have arraigned a lawyer, Mrs. Blessing Ogwatta, before a Federal High Court, Lagos, for allegedly defrauding an Ambassador and others to the tune of N364, 072 million and $7 million
Blessing, a former Head of Logistics, Jezco Oil Nigeria Limited, was arraigned before Justice Nicholas Oweibo on a five count charge of conspiracy, obtaining under false pretence and stealing.
She was alleged to have committed the alleged fraud with others said to be at large, between November 2012 and August 2019, at SPOG Petrochemical Limited, Wharf, Apapa, Lagos.
The prosecutor, Mr. Boniface Asogwa, a Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) while arraigning the defendant on Thursday, told the court that the defendant with the intent to defraud, fraudulently obtained the sum of $7 million USD from her former employer, Jezco Oil Nigeria Limited, under the pretence of using it for importation of Base Oil and purchase plots of Land for the construction of a Blending Plant at Ibeju-Lekki for the aforesaid company, but fraudulently converted N7.5 million, part of $7 million USD, to her your own use, by buying land and building a residential house at Forthright Garden Estate Magbaro Obafemi Owode Local Government Area, Ogun State.
She was also alleged to have fraudulently received the sum of N40 million, from one Ambassador Ndubuisi V. Amaku, for oil and gas business, but ended up converting N27 million, part of the money to her personal use.
Asogwa, who is also the Officer-In-Charge of Legal Department of ForceCID, Alagbon, Ikoyi, further stated before the court that the defendant, fraudulently obtained the sum of N44, 072 million, from one Emeka Okafor under the pretence of doing Additive Importation Business with him, but fraudulently converted N13 million part of the money to herself.
The defendant was also alleged to have dishonstly stole the sum of N18 million, part of N262 million loan obtained by her employer, Jezco Oil Nigeria Limited, from First City Monument Bank Plc before the fraud was uncovered.
The offences according to the prosecutor, DCP Asogwa are contrary to sections 8(3); 1(a); 1(c) 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 390 (9) of the Criminal Act Cap C38 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.
The defendant however pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Following the defendant’s plea of not guilty, Asogwa, asked the court for a trial date and urged the court to remand the accuse in Police custody or in the custody of Nigerian Correctional Services (NCS) pending the determination of the charges against her.
However, counsel to the defendant, Mr. O. Fatoki, while not opposing the prosecutor’s request for trial date, informed the court that he has filed the defendant’s bail application and same has been served on the prosecutor, whom he said had responded.
Upon hearing arguments on the bail application, Justice Nicholas Oweibo, admitted bail to the defendant in the sum of N10 million with two sureties in like sum.
The sureties who must be landed property owners within the court’s jurisdiction, must also present to court evidence of tax payment and means of livelihood.
The judge also ordered that the bail terms are to be verified by the Court’s Deputy Chief Registrar (DCR), While he also ordered that the defendant is to be remanded at the ForceCID, Annex, Alagbon-Ikoyi, Lagos, pending the fulfilment of the bail terms.
Meanwhile, the judge has adjourns the trial of the accused till October 22, 2020.