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Alleged N437m fraud: Court remands three BDC operators

A Federal High Court in Lagos on Thursday remanded three Bureau De Change (BDC) operators charged with an alleged N437 million fraud and issuance of dud cheques.

Vacation judge Justice Nicholas Oweibo made the order following the defendants’ arraignment on and plea of not guilty to a five-count charge bordering on the offences.

The defendants are: Jimmy Ibrahim, Obianuju Tessy Umejesi and Uche Madubuko.

The judge ordered that the trio be kept in the custody of the Police Special Fraud Unit (SFU), Ikoyi Lagos, pending hearing of their bail applications.

The SFU, in a charge marked FHC/L/292c/19, alleged that the defendants committed the offences while operating under the names of Regis Bureau De Change, Jayjibs Ventures, Johim Ventures and Jajibs Bureau-De-Change.

It said the trio, sometime in January 2019, fraudulently obtained N437m from one Temitope Akinmeji of Ephraim Heights Global Venture, with a false promise to give him $1.2 million, which is the United States dollar equivalent.

One of the operators, Jimmy Ibrahim, was said to have in April, May and June this year, issued three United Bank for Africa (UBA) cheques, numbered: 77046252; 77046253 and 77046254 from account number 1015196430i, with the total value of N73 million, as part payment of the sum, but they were dishonoured for insufficient funds.

The offences, according to prosecution counsel Mr. Chukwu Agwu, contravened Sections 8(a), 1(1)(a) of the Advance Fee Fraud and other related offences Act of 2006 and Section 1(a)(i) of the Dishonoured Cheques (offences) Act 2004.

Each defendant pleaded not guilty.

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Agwu applied for a trial date and prayed the court to remand the defendants in prison custody till the charge is determined.

He also informed the court that defence counsel, Mr. A. Ezeaba, claimed to have filed motions for the defendant’s bail and served same on the prosecution, but that he was yet to receive any application.

Responding, Ezeaba and John Nwoku insisted that motions for the defendant’s bail had been filed and served on the prosecution. He prayed, in the alternative, that the defendants be remanded in SFU custody.

But, corroborating the prosecutor’s statement, Justice Oweibo said there was no proof of service in the court’s file.

The judge conceded to the defendants’ counsel and remanded the defendants in SFU custody.

He adjourned till September 4, for hearing of their bail applications.

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