Bizman, Lanre Smith charged with alleged $26,000 fraud

… remanded in prison custody till Feb.5

A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos on Tuesday ordered the remand of a notable Lagos businessman, Mr Lanre Smith in the Nigerian Correctional Centre following his arraignment over conspiracy and Advance Fee Fraud involving sums of US$ 26,000 and N10,140,000.

Mr Lanre Smith was arraigned on a 3-counts charge before Justice Ibrahim Ahmad Kala by the Police from the Force Criminal Investigation Department, FCID, Annex, Ikoyi Lagos.

When the matter was called for Lanre Smith to take his plea, Mr Mike Enejere announced appearance for the prosecution, Mr Akin Apara announced appearance for the defendant while Mrs. A. Ebiason was holding watching brief for the nominal complainant.

The prosecutor, Enejere informed the court that the matter was for arraignment of the defendant and applied that the charge be read to him.

Enejere’s request was granted and the charge was read to the defendant .

According to the charge, Lanre Smith was alleged to have sometime in August 2016, conspired with others to commit an offence of Advance Fee Fraud by conducting a financial transaction which involved proceeds of unlawful activity by deceiving one Lindy Drake into depositing sum of US$26,000 into a United States of America Well Fargo Account No 1788790317 with account name Wilok Limited, operated by Okwudili Okeke with intent to promote the carrying on of a specified unlawful activity.

The defendant was further alleged to have fraudulently obtained sum of N10,140,000 from Okwudili Okeke under the pretence that he had deposited a genuine sum of S$26,000 into his United States of America Well Fargo Account No 1788790317 with account name Wilok Limited, a pretence which he knew to be false.

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According to the charge, the offences allegedly committed by the defendant are contrary to Sections 8(a); 7(1)(a) and 1(1)(a)of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act 2006, And punishable under Sections 7(2)(b); and 1(3) of the same Act.

After listening to the three counts charge preferred against him, Lanre Smith pleaded not guilty to all the counts.

In view of the defendant’s not guilty plea, the police prosecutor Enejere applied that the defendant be remanded in prison while urging the court to avail him with a trial date.

In his response, defence counsel, Mr. Apara informed the court that the defendant was just served with the charge yesterday Monday and given the circumstances of the case, he said that he would be making an oral application for bail of the defendant.

“I seek the leave of this court to apply for bail orally, given the special circumstances of the case. We apply orally pending the filling of proper application for bail.

“The defendant is a responsible citizen of Federal Republic of Nigeria and has given a lot of speeches at Seminars and public functions. This is to say that he is a responsible known figure in the society. Please allow him bail application orally,” defence counsel Apara submitted.

In his reply, the prosecutor Mr Enejere said: ”My lord, this is a court of records. Bail application can even be brought tomorrow. He must not wait until the next adjourned date.”

“We vehemently opposed to the oral bail application canvassed by the defence counsel.

“The crux of our position in the suit is that the charge was filed in August 2023 and since then, the defendant here now in court has defied all entreaties to either come to police station in obedient to bail condition nor appear in court for his arraignment.

“We are not attacking the person of the defendant as per being a responsible citizen, but his action in jumping for his administrative bail sharply contrast with the behaviour of a responsible citizen.

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”On the final note, we will be urging the court to discountenance the application of the learned defence counsel to apply oral application for bail of the defendant,” Enejere submitted.

In his further response, the defence counsel cited Section 32(3) of ACJA 2015, saying that in some circumstances, application for bail can be made orally.

“My lord, let the defendant be released to me. I will produce him in court on next adjourned date.”

Enejere: “My lord, the Police has severally contacted the counsel to ask his client to come to police but he refused.”

After listening to arguments by counsel, Justice Kala ruled that the defendant should file a written bail application, serve the prosecution and which he will responded to between Tuesday and Monday next week.

Justice Kala adjourned the matter till Monday February 5, and ordered the defendant to be remanded in prison custody.

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