Teacher acquitted of stealing N39.8m from Donald Duke’s wife’s foundation

An Ikeja Special Offences Court has acquitted a teacher, Ebele Mbanugo, charged with stealing $110,267 (N39,861,520) from a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) belonging to the wife of Donald Duke, Onari Duke.

Mrs Mbanugo was a Vice-Principal at the American International School Lagos (AISL) when she was accused of defrauding the Child Survival and Development Organisation of Nigeria between 2009 and 2011.

Mbanugo was arraigned on October 8, 2014 with a three-count charge of stealing and fraudulent conversion.

Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo, in her judgment on Monday, said the prosecution failed to prove that Mbanugo misappropriated the fund which was raised for the purpose of purchasing mammogram machines for detection of breast cancer.

“The prosecution failed to prove that the money misappropriated belongs to Mrs Duke. Mrs Duke was not called to testify in this case.

“The testimony of the defendant showed how three mammogram machines were bought from General Electric for 133,000 dollars which is a sum higher than the sum allegedly misappropriated by the defendant.

“The prosecution failed to prove the source of the funds or that the defendant fraudulently converted it to her own use.

“The defendant had shown various brochures, pictures and documents highlighting her passion for fighting breast cancer as her mother and two aunts were diagnosed with the disease and she had said how early detection had saved her mother.

“It is unfortunate that such a laudable initiative could be marred by conflict between Mrs Duke and the defendant over ownership of the foundation.

“The defendant is hereby discharged and acquitted and found not guilty of the three-count charge,” the judge said.