Robbing the dead: EFCC arraigns three over N141.7m shares scam

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Monday arraigned three suspects, Mohammed Rabiu Lawan (58), Raphael Olorunfemi Okomoda (50) and Adegbesan Theophilus (38), before Justice Lawal Akapo of a Lagos High Court sitting in Ikeja on different criminal counts, all bordering on conspiracy, obtaining money by false presence, stealing, impersonation, forgery, using false document and money laundering.

EFCCWhile Lawan was charged with 19 counts, Okomoda and Theophilus were charged with seven counts each.

The defendants got into trouble when they were arrested by operatives of the Commission following a report of fraudulent sale of shares of two deceased shareholders who had shares in several blue chip companies including, Agip Nigeria Limited, Total Oil, Union Bank Nigeria Plc, Nestle Nigeria Plc, Mobil Oil Nigeria Plc, Unilever Nigeria Plc and Nigeria Breweries Plc.

The stocks originally belonged to Alhaji Shande Ako Dzungwe and Alhaji Isa Koto (both deceased) but were allegedly claimed, converted and sold by the three defendants.

Lawan is accused of forging identity cards, driver’s licenses; school certificates and international passports of both Dzungwe and Koto to perfect the scam.

The total value of shares allegedly converted and sold by the three defendants was N141, 652,951 (one hundred and forty one million, six hundred and fifty two thousand, nine hundred and fifty one naira)

The defendants pleaded not guilty to all the charges preferred against them.

In view of their plea, prosecuting counsel, Fadike Giwa, prayed the court for a trial date and the remand of the defendants in prison custody. Giwa informed the court that she had filed a 22-paragraph counter-affidavit and a written address urging the court to deny the defendants bail in favour of accelerated hearing of the suit.

Counsel to the three defendants, J. H. Bashir, informed the court of his bail application and a written address, urging the court to grant the defendants bail. He specifically prayed the court to admit the defendants to bail “owing to their fragile health condition,” but Giwa countered that the EFCC had been taking good care of the medical needs of the defendants.

Justice Akapo, after listening to both counsel, adjourned the case till July 8, 2014 for ruling on bail applications and ordered that the defendants be remanded in Kirikiri Maximum Prison, Lagos.