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

EFCC operatives

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Thursday re-arraigned Prof Uche Chigozie 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 Integrated 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 pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Oweibo was later transferred out of the Lagos division and the case was transferred to Dipeolu.

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

But the prosecutor Chineye Okezie said it should be allowed if the defence counsel would undertake to ensure the defendant’s attendance in court.

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

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The prosecutor, therefore, insisted that she would not oppose if the defence counsel made 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 fraud activity.

The defendant was also alleged to have retained the sum of N197 million 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 in 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 land 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 to N87 million from Muwawiyya Haruna, which sum exceeded the amount authorised by law.