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High profile corruption: Theodore Orji, bank officials in multibillion Naira racketeering


In our review of high-profile corruption trials today, the former Abia State Governor, three officials of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), and two officials of Sterling Bank were nabbed in a multibillion Naira racketeering amounting to nearly nine billion Naira.

Read on:

Theodore Orji in N7.6 billion money laundering

Chief Theodore Orji was Abia State Governor from 2007 to 2015. During his first tenure as governor, there were petitions to the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) to investigate Orji for money laundering allegations brought against him.

Since Orji could not be prosecuted at the time, ICPC detained the Accountant-General of the State, Mrs. Bridget Onyema, for two days and later granted her administrative bail.

The arrest was in connection with a series of petitions sent to the commission to investigate the whereabouts of about N1.9632 billion allegedly transferred under the guise of travel estacodes to the governor, his deputy, their wives and families, as well as 23 other persons who were part of the governor’s entourage to the World Igbo Congress held in Tampa Bay, Florida, the United States in 2008.

Orji was also alleged to have embezzled Abia State’s allocation from the Ecological Funds disbursed by the federal government to assist states in tackling environment-related challenges such as erosion, flooding and the likes, all amounting to N7.6 billion.

It was for a similar offence that the former governor of Plateau State, Joshua Dariye, was sentenced to 14 years imprisonment in June 12, 2018.

The sentence was later reduced by the Court of Appeal to 10 years.

Read also:

High profile corruption: How N1.2b fraud jailed Dariye 10 years; Wagbatsoma escapes hammer

Also, Orji was accused of diverting huge sums of money from the Abia State Oil Producing Development Area Commission, the agency that is set up to see to the development of oil-producing areas.

He allegedly used the illegally acquired fund to buy properties in various parts of the country.

Trials are ongoing over the case.

Three CBN, Two Sterling Bank officials – N1.1 billion fraud

In 2015, three employees of the Central Bank of Nigeria and two staff of Sterling Bank of Nigeria, were arraigned before Justice Ayo Emmanuel of a Federal High Court sitting in Ibadan, Oyo State for defrauding the apex bank and two other banks a total sum of N1,141,303,300 (one billion, one hundred and forty one million, three hundred and three thousand, three hundred Naira ).

The suspects: Messrs Kolawole Babalola, Olaniran Muniru Adeola, Toogun Kayode Philips- all former staff of the CBN and Messrs Salami Ibrahim and Oddiah Emmanuel, both staff of Sterling Bank Plc, were arraigned on an eleven-count charge bordering on conspiracy, fraud and stealing.

Specifically, the bankers were alleged to have defrauded their banks of various sums of money totaling N1,141,303,300 using various guises and pretenses.

When the charges were read to them, they pleaded not guilty.

In view of their plea, prosecuting counsel, Rotimi Jacob, SAN, prayed the court for a trial date and the remand of the defendants in prison custody.

However, counsel to the 1st accused, O. Bolanle, speaking for all the other counsels, applied for short adjournment to enable them bring formal applications for bail before the court.

Justice Ayo Emmanuel adjourned the matter to June 9, 2015, for hearing of the bail applications and July 6 and 7, 2015 for trial. ‘

He ordered that the defendants be remanded in Agodi prison custody, Ibadan.

The prosecution counsel told court of his intention to amend charges against CBN staff, Olaniran Muniru and others who are being prosecuted for alleged ₦8 billion currency scam.

The Defence counsels objected to the amendment and urged court to dismiss it.

No ruling has been made since 2015.

Read also:

High profile corruption: Ex-Governor Yuguda, Senator Akpan, ors in EFCC’s dragnet

[This Publication is based on a compendium by Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA) covering corruption cases as at 22nd of November, 2019.

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