EFCC arraigns CBN officials in Ibadan over N8b fraud

Some of the suspected CBN officials and others on arrival for arraignment at a Federal High Court in Ibadan  on Tuesday by the EFCC over their involvement in the over N80billion currency fraud.                  PHOTO: NAJEEM RAHEEM

Some of the suspected CBN officials and others on arrival for arraignment at a Federal High Court in Ibadan  on Tuesday by the EFCC over their involvement in the over N80billion currency fraud. PHOTO: NAJEEM RAHEEM

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) yesterday arraigned 10 officials of the Central Bank of Nigeria ( CBN) and other banks over alleged  circulation of mutilated bank currencies worth N8b at the Federal High Court sitting in Ibadan.

The suspects who were arraigned in three batches were accused of conspiracy as well as diversion and stealing of mutilated currencies and replacing them with newspaper cuttings.

Specifically, the first set of the accused persons, namely Patience Okoro, Afolabi Johnson, Ilori Sunday, Kolawole Babalola, Olaniran Adeola and Fatai Yusuf were brought before Justice Ayo Emmanuel on a five count charge of conspiracy, diversion and stealing of mutilated currencies meant for briquetting and replacing the mutilated currencies with cut-to-size newspapers while diverting the money for personal use.

The second set of suspects, including Kolawole Babalola, Olaniran Muniru Adeola, Togun Kayode Philips , Salami Ibraheem (Sterling Bank) and Oddia Emmanuel (Sterling Bank) were arraigned on 11 -count charges.

The third batch of suspects, Kolawole Babalola ,Olaniran Muniru Adeola , Togun Kayode Philips and Tope Akintade ( Eco Bank) were arraigned on a 15- count charge which centred on false entry of cash deposited by the Eco bank of N490 million at CBN against N79.7million of N1000 mutilated notes between 2010 to 2014.

Two other suspects, Roy Akinsiku and O. Sobowale were said to be at large.

All the accused persons pleaded not quilt to the charges leveled against them by the anti graft commission.

Counsel to the accused persons made oral application before the court seeking that the suspects be granted bail.

Babalola’s counsel, Olayinka Bolanle citing the case of FG vs  M.K.O Abiola declared that the constitution of Nigeria allows for oral application for bail once the case involved was not a capital offence.

But counsel to the EFCC, Rotimi Jacob (SAN ) opposed the bail bid and prayed the court to remand the suspects in prison custody  pending the filing, hearing and determination of the application.

Jacob citing section 162 of administration of justice act listed the level of offences which the court can grant bail into three, namely bail for capital offences, bail for indictable offences and bail for minor offences.

He submitted that it was only on minor offences that the judge can grant bail to the accused persons.

Justice Emmanuel in his ruling refused to grant the accused bail and directed that a proper application should be brought before the court.

Justice Emmanuel said, “Having considered the various applications by the counsel in this case, and having considered the proof and charges, I see that they are weighty and I will not allow such applications to be made orally. All counsel should properly file the applications for all the issues therein to be addressed. The matter is hereby adjourned till June 9 for the bail application and July 6 and 7 for trial. The accused persons are hereby remanded in prison.”

The Apex bank Briquetting Panel comprising Senior Bank Staff from different branches had during a routine internal audit of the Bank’s Cash Destruction activities in September 2014, noticed some anomalies at the Ibadan Branch, and immediately reported this to the Bank’s Management.

On further investigation ordered by the Governor, it was discovered that a systematic scheme, which has been on for several years, was being run in which mutilated higher denomination notes originally meant for destruction were swapped with lower denomination currencies.”

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