CBN ex-workers opt for plea-bargain over alleged N7.9 billion fraud, others prefer trial

Two of eight former employees of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in a case of an alleged N7.9 billion fraud preferred against them at a Federal High Court sitting in Adeoyo, Ibadan, Oyo State, have chosen the plea-bargain option.

Six others standing trial in the same case however, chose to stand trial as they pleaded not guilty to the charges preferred against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The duo, Togun Kayode Philips and Esther Afolabi Adenike, told the Presiding Judge, Justice Joyce Abdumalik, through their counsel that they would like to negotiate their freedom through plea-bargain.

The accused were said to have colluded to steal various sums of money totalling about N7.9 billion between 2010 and 2012. They were said to have re-circulated some mutilated currencies received from deposit money banks, which the apex bank had marked for destruction.

Testifying in the case, EFCC’s investigating officer, Hammadama Bello, told the court that acting upon a petition to the commission against the accused persons in 2014, he alongside seven other officials of the anti-graft agency conducted an investigation and discovered they have been stuffing N1,000 notes into newspaper cuttings and diverting the contents for personal use.

Bello also told the court that both the accused persons have confessed to their culpability in the crime.

However, Abdulmalik said the two accused persons were trying to initiate an evasive plea-bargaining as they have not disclosed their account numbers and the identity of their banks. She, therefore, instructed them to do so before the next adjournment date of March 22, 2017.

However, counsel to one of the accused, Mr. Babatunde Akinola, objected to a counter-affidavit by the counsel to EFCC, Mr. Adebisi Adeniyi. He informed the court that he needed time to study the documents before responding to them.

Abdulmalik thereafter asked the other counsel if they objected to his submission and consequent upon their refusal to object to it, she directed all the parties involved to choose a convenient date for hearing on the trial. The case was adjourned till March 23, 2017 after an agreement was reached among the counsel.

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