Man arraigned for alleged N140m fraud in Owerri

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission EFCC, has arraigned one Joel Okodi before an Imo State High Court sitting in Owerri, Imo State.

He was arraigned before Justice C.C. Okereke on an eight-count charge bordering on stealing and issuance of dud cheque.

When the charges were read to the defendant, he pleaded ‘not guilty’ and in view of his plea, prosecuting counsel, M.T. Iko prayed the court for a trial date, which was not opposed by the defense counsel, N. Chukwuemeka.

He, however, prayed the court to grant the defendant bail.

Justice Okereke granted the defendant bail in the sum of N50million, and two surties in like sum.

The two surteis must swear to an affidavit of means of livelihood and must own a landed property with a Certificate of Occupancy, C of O.

Justice Okereke also asked the defendant to produce a three years tax clearance for identification and thereafter adjourned the matter till February 29, and March 7, 2024, for commencement of trial and hearing of bail application.

He ordered that the defendant be remanded in prison custody pending fulfillment of his bail condition.

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The defendant was arrested based on the claims of a petitioner alleging that sometimes in 2018, Joel Mba (1st defendant), his firm, Okosi Brown Enterprises Limited and Okodi Atta (currently at large), Effiong Peter (currently at large), Mohammed Shasi (currently at large), Geogry Edet (currently at large), and Anthony Etim (currently at large), presented themselves as representatives of the Akwa-Ibom State government.

According to him, the defendant and his co-accused approached him that they were authorised to sell a dilapidated Abestonic Industrial Scrap Company located at Oron Local Government Area on behalf of the state government, for N140million.

The petitioner allegedly made an initial deposit of N52million, with a promise to make a balance payment of N88million, in two weeks.

After the initial payment, he allegedly discovered that the said authorization by the state government to Mba and his firm had been reversed.

Upon this discovery, the defendant allegedly issued a dishonoured cheque to the petitioner and further efforts made to recover the rest of the money proved abortive.

Count 8 of the charge reads: “That you Joel MBA Okodi on or about September 12, 2019, at Orlu within the jurisdiction of this court fraudulently issued a First Bank Cheque No. 85621949 dated September 12, 2019, in the sum of N10million in favour of Pauly Merchandise Enterprises in partial fulfillment of your financial obligation to him in the sum of N50million only, and when the said cheque was presented for payment, it was dishonoured due to insufficient funds standing to your credit. Issuing dishonored cheques is contrary to Section 1(1) (a) and (b) (i) and (ii) of the Dishonoured Cheque (Offences) Act Cap D11 of the Revised Edition (Laws of the Federation) 2007.”

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