EFCC re-arraigns professor over alleged N1.47bn fraud

Court gavel

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Thursday re-arraigned Uche Chigozie, a professor, and three companies before a Federal High Court in Lagos, over alleged N1.47 billion money laundering.

The companies are: Visionary Integrated Consulting Ltd., Nemad Associates Ltd., and Revamp Global Enterprises.

The defendant was alleged to have converted the sum through the account of Visionary Intergrated Consulting Ltd. (second defendant) which he ought to have known was derived from an illegal act of stealing.

Chigozie, is standing trial before Justice Isaac Dipeolu, on an 11-count charge bordering on conspiracy, fraud, stealing, and money laundering.

He, however, pleaded not guilty to the counts since the other defendants are not physical persons.

Chigozie was first arraigned in August 2023, before Justice Nicholas Oweibo, and had pleaded not guilty to the charge.

Oweibo was later transfered out of the Lagos division and the case was transferred to the new judge, Dipeolu.

Following the defendant’s plea on Thursday, defence counsel, Mr Edudo Mefo, urged the court to allow the defendant continue on an earlier bail granted by the court on Aug. 7, 2023.

But the prosecutor, Mrs Chineye Okezie, urged the court to only allow the defendant continue on his existing bail, if the defence counsel would undertake to ensure his attendance in court.

Okezie explained to the court that the defendant had been absent on certain occasions, which she claimed had caused some “drama”.

The prosecutor, therefore, insisted that she would not oppose if the defence counsel makes that undertaking.

In response, the defence counsel told the court that when the defendant was first granted bail, his sureties included his biological father and a legal practitioner .

He told the court that he was willing to add to the number, and undertook to ensure attendance of the defendant in court.

Following the agreement of the parties, the court adjourned the case until March 13, for trial.

In the charge, the defendant was alleged to have conspired with the other defendants to use the sum of N1.47 billion belonging to the Maize Growers, Processors and Marketers Association of Nigeria.

The EFCC said they should have known that the money formed part of the proceeds of their unlawful activity of fraud.

The defendant was also alleged to have retained the sum of N197million in his bank account, part of the proceeds of illegal act of gratification.

He was alleged to have used the sum of N120 million to acquire a property in his name, at the Gwarimpa area of Abuja and another N200 million to acquire two properties in Owerri, Imo State.

The defendant was alleged to have used the aggregate sum of N90 million to acquire several plots of lands in Owerri.

Besides, he was alleged to have used the sum of N34 million to acquire three Toyota Hilux vehicles in his name.

He was also said to have received a dollar cash payment equivalent of N87 million from one Muwawiyya Haruna, which sum exceeded the amount authorised by law .

The offences contravene the provisions of sections 1(a), 15(1), 15(2), 15(3), 16, and 18(a) of the Money Laundering Act, 2012. (NAN)

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