A businessman, Austin Albert Ugochukwu , on Thursday, narrated before a Federal High Court, Lagos, how a former member of the House of Representative representing Eti-Osa Federal Constituency of Lagos State, Honourable Anthony Akala, and other members of his group defrauded him of the sum of N240 million, under the pretence of helping him to convert the money in Naira denomination to American dollars.
Honourable Akala also known as General, and others has been arraigned before Justice Hadiza Rabiu-Shagari of the Federal High Court, Lagos on charges bordering on conspiracy, fraud, and obtaining under false pretence, by men of Force Criminal Intelligence and Investigation Department (FCIID), Alagbo-Ikoyi, Lagos.
Standing trial along Honourable Akala are: Saidi Oke, Bashir Mohammed: and Alhaji Umar Ali.
Also charged with the accused persons are two firms: Grantland Investment Nigeria Limited and Abroad Development Foundation.
At the resumed trial of the accused person, the fraud victim, Austin Albert Ugochukwu, while being led in evidence -in chief by the prosecutor, Dr. Imam A. Usman, said that after the arrest of the accused persons, the third accused, Bashir Mohammed, informed the team of investigators set up Deputy Commissioner of Police (DC) Intelligence FCIID, Abuja, that the nickname of the first accused Akala, is ‘General’, and that he was not part of their gang.
Ugochukwu stated that further investigation by the DC, revealed that the former House of Representative member, Akala, is actually the one called ‘General’, by his political associates.
He added that immediately Akala realised that his identity has revealed as ‘General’, he quickly deleted his social handles, and pleaded with him to settle the case amicably.
Ugochukwu further told the court that during negotiation between him, his lawyer and the accused, the first accused, Akala, pleaded with him to convince the DC Investigation to release him from detention so that he can return the money defrauded him in two weeks.
Adding that the first accused, also offered him two properties in lieu of the money and he wrote a statement to that, but his lawyer told him that he could not established any nexus between Akala and the two properties, hence the rejection of such deal.
Upon the rejection of Akala’s offer, the witness said the first defendant (Akala) vowed that if he (Austin) did not accept the offer, he should stop disturbing him, and that he will deal with the DC Investigation and other police officers involved in the case.
He added that true to his words, both DC Investigation, the Area Commander of Area J, Lagos, and Area Crimes Officer, of the Command, were transferred out of the offices and stations.
Earlier, the fraud victim, Austin, had told the court how the first accused, Honourable Akala and other accused persons, had threatened to kill him if did not stop pursuing the case.
He also told the court how he was tricked by the alleged fraudsters to transfer the sum of N350 million to them with the believe and promise that they will instantly give him $1 million in exchange, but only to be given $20,900 USD.
Ugochukwu also told the court how alleged fraudsters carried out their heinous act through First City Monument Bank (FCMB).
Following the revelation made by the witness, the prosecutor, Dr. Imam, urged the court to summon the bank and issued a hearing notice. The request which was granted by the court.
Narrating his ordeal before the court, the fraud victim, Ugochukwu, told the court how each of the accused persons induced him to give them the sum of N350 million in exchange for $1 million, and how they reneged only to give him $29, 900, 000 USD.
He added that when the accused persons refused and failed to balance him as promised, he reported the matter at Area J Police Command, before it was taken over by the IGP Monitoring team, Abuja.
Meanwhile the court has, again, renewed its earlier bench warrant issued against Dr. Chukwuemeka Cyraicus Anyanwu, 50: Agboola Rasheed Gbade, 67: Nkechi Nwafor, 43: and Larry Balogun Otunba, 51, who were also mentioned in the charge.
The police in the amended charge marked FHC/L/327c/2017, alleged that the four suspects and others now at large, had on June 15, 2017, at Lekki area of Lagos State, conspired among themselves to obtain the sum of N312.2 million part of N359 million, from Austin Albert, under false pretence of selling to the complaint $1 million USD.
The police also alleged that the four after fraudulently received the money from the victim, converted same to their personal use.
The offences according to the prosecution, are contrary to sections 8(b) and 1(3) and punishable under sections 1(3) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Related Offences Act, 2006.
All the accused however pleaded not guilty to the charge.
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