An Executive Assistant at E-banking Unit of the Nnamdi Okonkwo-led Fidelity Bank, Mrs. Uchenna Abazu, and her husband, Tochukwu Philip Abazu, were last Wednesday 31st May, 2017, re-arraigned before a Federal High Court, sitting in Lagos, for allegedly defrauding the bank to the sum of N97 million.
The banker and her husband were re-arraigned on a four-count charge of conspiracy, fraud, stealing and forgery, by the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF). At the proceedings, the prosecutor, Kehinde Bode-Ayeni, informed the court that the matter was slated for the plea of the accused persons to be retaken, and therefore urged the court to grant her request. Consequently, the presiding judge, Justice Rilwan Aikawa, granted the prosecutor’s application, and ordered that the plea of the accused persons be re-taken. The accused persons pleaded not guilty to the charge. Consequently, their lawyer, Mr. Taiwo Adegbite, pleaded with the court to let his clients continue with the bail terms earlier granted them by the former trial judge, Justice Mohammed Yunusa, who is on compulsory retirement. The application was not opposed by the prosecutor, but urges the court to grant accelerated hearing of the matter, on the ground that the case has been in court since 2008. In his ruling, presiding judge, Justice Aikawa, ordered that the accused persons continue with the earlier bail conditions granted them by the former trial judge, while adjourned the matter till October 10, 11 and 12, 2017, for trial. In a three-count criminal charge filed before the court by the prosecutor, Mrs C. M Efobi from the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, it was stated thus: “That you Uchenna Abazu “F”, between the 29th day of February, 2008 and 12th day of February, 2009 in your capacity as executive assistant, Electronic Business unit of the Domestic Operations of Fidelity Bank plc with identity card number 1705, located at 23, Awolowo Road, Ikoyi, Lagos, conspired with your husband Tochukwu Phillip Abazu, to commit felony to forgery and thereby committed an offence contrary to section 3(6) of the miscellaneous offenses Act CAP m17 of the laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004, and in conjunction with 1(2)(a)(B) (c) of the same Act. “That you Uchenna Abazu and Tochukwu Phillip Abazu between the 29th February of 2008 and 12th of February 2009 at Fidelity Bank Plc, 23 Awolowo Road, Ikoyi did conspire with one another to steal and thereby committed an offence punishable under section 516 of criminal code cap c38 of the law of federation of Nigeria.” “That you Uchenna Abazu (F) and Tochukwu Phillip Abazu your husband between 29th day February, 2008 and 12th February, 2009 at Fidelity Bank plc, 23 Awolowo Road, Ikoyi, Lagos, did forged statement of account 027402010024417 belonging to Tochukwu Phillip Abazu and in furtherance of your common intention made false entries into Tochukwu Phillip Abazu’s account number 027402010024417 with Fidelity Bank Plc on the 6th of June 2007 in the sum of N97million knowing that they were false entries. The said false entries were acted upon as genuine via eighty-two Fidelity bank Plc cheques with serial numbers 03097572 to 0397601, 00106503 to 00106542 and 01951151 to 01951161, to the prejudice of Fidelity Bank plc and Federal Government of Nigeria and thereby committed an offence punishable under sections 1a,b,and c of the offences miscellaneous Act. “That you Uchenna Abazu and Tochukwu Phillp Abazu between 29th day of February 2008 and 12th of February 2009 at Fidelity Bank plc, 23 Awolowo road, Ikoyi, Lagos did steal the sum of N97Million belonging to Fidelity bank plc earlier mentioned and subsequently diverted part of the said money to two accounts in other commercial banks in Nigeria and thereafter withdrew same for your personal use and thereby committed an offence punishable under sections 390 (6)and (7) of the criminal code CAP c38 of the laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.