EFCC/Judicial Reports

EFCC re-arraigns don for alleged N1.4bn fraud


A professor, Uche Chigozie, who allegedly defrauded the Maize Growers, Processors and Marketers Association of Nigeria, was on Thursday re-arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission before a Federal High Court in Lagos, for N1.47bn money laundering.

Chigozie, who was arraigned alongside three companies, Visionary Integrated Consulting Ltd, Nemad Associates Ltd. and Revamp Global Enterprises, is facing 11 counts bordering on conspiracy, fraud, stealing, and money laundering, preferred against him by the EFCC.

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

Justice Oweibo was, however, transferred out of the Lagos Division, and the case was reassigned to the new trial judge, Justice Dehinde Dipeolu.

The EFCC’s prosecution counsel, Mrs Chinenye Okezie, told the court that the defendant allegedly conspired with the other defendants, and used the sum of N1.47bn belonging to the Maize Growers, Processors and Marketers Association of Nigeria.

Okezie said that the defendant allegedly retained the sum of N197m in his UBA account, which formed part of the proceeds of illegal act of gratification.

She also told the court that Chigozie allegedly used N120m to acquire a property in his name, in the Gwarimpa area of Abuja and another N200m, to acquire two properties in Owerri, Imo State.

The anti-graft agency said the defendant used the aggregate sum of N90m to acquire several plots of land in parts of Owerri.

He was further accused of using the sum of N34m to acquire three Toyota Hilux vehicles in his name.

The commission also said that the defendant allegedly received a dollar cash payment equivalent to N87m from one Muwawiyya Haruna, which sum exceeded the amount authorised by law.

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Our correspondent gathered that the EFCC said the defendant ought to have known that the money formed part of the proceeds of unlawful activity of fraud.

According to the commission, the offences committed contravened Sections 1(a), 15(1), 15(2), 15(3), 16, and 18(a) of the Money Laundering Act, 2012.

However, the defendant pleaded not guilty to the charges against him.

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

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

She 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 made that undertaking.

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

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

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

Mike Ojo

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