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Kogi NNPP candidate’s N1.4bn fraud trial suffer setbacks

By Monsurudeen Olowoopejo

The trial of a Kogi State House of Assembly candidate of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) Ismaila Atumeyi, and two others before the Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos over their involvement in N1.4 billion cybercrime fraud has suffered a major setback following absence of the lead defence counsel, Bolaji Ayorinde, in court.

Atumeyi is standing trial alongside Ngene Joshua Dominic and Abdulmalik Salau, a former employee of Union Bank Plc, on an 18-count charge bordering on alleged cybercrime and money laundering worth N1.4 billion allegedly removed from a commercial bank in the country.

At the resumption of trial on Tuesday, Justice Tijani Ringim, adjourned the case after the court was informed that Ayorinde was not available to lead counsels for the accused.

One of the counts reads: “That you, Ismaila Yousuf Atumeyi, Ngene Joshua Dominic and Abdulmalik Salau, between August and October, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, conspired among yourselves to directly conceal the sum of N1, 403, 343, 400.00 (One Billion, Four Hundred and Three Million, Three Hundred and Forty-three Thousand, Four Hundred Naira) in the account of FAV Oil and Gas Limited, which sum you reasonably ought to have known forms part of the proceeds of your unlawful activity and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 18( a), 15 (2) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act, 2011, as amended, and punishable under Section 15(3) of the same Act.”

The trial came barely two months after they were arrested by officials of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in Abuja and N326 million and $610,500  cash were recovered from them after their arrest in Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja and Lagos State.

Aside from the huge funds found in their possession, two luxury Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs) were also recovered from the two suspects arrested in Abuja.


Atumeyi, who was seeking to represent Ankpa 11 constituency in the Kogi house of assembly, was arrested alongside Dominic by the anti-graft agency officials during a sting operation at Macedonia Street, Queens Estate, Karsana, Gwarinpa, Abuja.
Salau, who allegedly supplied the inside information that facilitated the attack on the bank by the syndicate, was arrested on Tuesday at Radisson Blu hotel in Lagos where he had been hiding after getting a hint that EFCC officials were on his trail.
Following his arrest, a search was conducted on his home in Morgan Estate, Ojodu where a total of $470,000 USD was recovered from him by the EFCC officials.
The arrest of the suspects followed months of investigation into the hacking of one of the commercial banks by a syndicate of fraudsters who pulled off a heist of N1.4 billion.
After removing the huge funds from the bank, the EFCC through an official statement released on its official social media handles, narrated that the syndicate allegedly moved N887million into the account of Fav Oil and Gas firm from where the monies were paid to several Bureau de Change operators and some auto dealers for exchange into United States Dollars and purchase of high-end cars.
According to EFCC, Dominic, who has severally been arrested for fraud, allegedly helped Atumeyi perfect the hacking plan through Abdumalik.

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