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AGF Takes Over Alleged N6.6bn Fraud Against Polaris Bank Staff Member

THE Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minster of Justice, Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, has taken over the trial of Mr Chinenye Duru, a Polaris Bank staff and account officer to Mr Victor Onukogu, in the alleged N6.6 billion fraud.

AGF’s counsel, V.J. Alma, told Justice Inyang Ekwo of a Federal High Court, Abuja that Fagbemi, pursuant to his powers under Section 174(1)(b) of the Constitution (as amended), had directed the takeover of the matter.

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The lawyer said though the matter for today was for continuation of trial, the AGF gave the directive.

“We have written a letter to the Nigerian police notifying them of this position and requesting for the original case file in a letter dated 29th May, 2024.

“We are still waiting for the original case file,” he said.

Justice Ekwo asked Alma if the court had already been notified of the development and the lawyer responded in affirmative.

Alma, who prayed the court to fixed the adjournment date after vacation, urged the court to fixed the matter for trial.

The judge then told Duru’s lawyer, Chief Chidi Ezenwafor, to advise Polaris Bank, the 1st defendant, to ensure a counsel represents them in the case.

Although Ezenwafor said he expected Alma to apply for a date for mentioning of the case instead of trial, the judge said: “There is no harm in giving a date for trial.”

Justice Ekwo, consequently, adjourned the matter until Nov.18 and Nov. 19 for trial.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Inspector-General (I-G) of Police had, on Jan. 19, arraigned Duru on 11-count charge.

He, however, pleaded not guilty to the counts and the judge ordered him to be remanded in a correctional facility pending the hearing of his bail application.

While the I-G was the complainant in the charge marked: FHC/ABJ/CR/603/2023, Polaris Bank Plc and Duru are 1st and 2nd defendants.

NAN reports that in count one, Polaris Bank and Duru were alleged to have between Nov. 17, 2017, and Aug 14, 2023, fraudulently withdrew from Onukogu Victor Hezekiah’s account numbers: 1040495455 and 1060104735, domiciled with the bank the sum of N16 billion and N500 million.

It said that knowing that the said money did not belong to them, and knowing the same act was wrong with the intention of converting same to their personal use and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 21 (a) and punishable under Section 18 (3) of the Money Laundering (Prevention and Prohibition Act, 2022.

In count four, the defendants were alleged to have between Nov. 17, 2017 and Aug. 14, 2023, fraudulently withdrew the sum of N75. 534 million from Onukogu’s account number: 4010023601 contrary to Section 18 (2) of the Money Laundering (Prevention and Prohibition Act, 2022.

In count six, they were alleged to have fraudulently withdrew the sum of N13.3 million from Hezekiah University’s account number: 40910106770.

The defendants were also alleged to have fraudulently withdrew the sum of N16.3 million between the same date from Hezekiah University’s account number: 411054152 without any authorisation from the account owner with the intention of converting same to their own personal use contrary to the Money Laundering Act, among other counts.

NAN reports that Onukogu, also known as Daddy Hezekiah, is the spiritual head of Living Christ Mission Church, Onitsha in Anambra.(NAN)

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