The police in Lagos have arrested an ex-manager of Ecobank Nigeria Plc, Ejigbo branch, 41-year-old Ikechukwu Aghanenu, for allegedly colluding with a suspected fraudster, Anthony Okpala, to defraud two customers of the bank of N14m.
The customers are Mrs. Oluremi Egunjobi (now late), and one Rabiu Lawal, who is based in the United Kingdom.
The suspects, who were arrested on Wednesday, reportedly diverted N4.014m from the deceased’s bank account 5323007058, while N10m was said to have been fraudulently withdrawn from Lawal’s account, 2741128259.
PUNCH Metro learnt that 34-year-old Okpala and one other suspect at large, had presented themselves to Aghanenu as the relatives of the deceased with some forged documents authorising the bank to release the sum.
It was gathered that the deal was perfected between September and November, 2015 and the money was withdrawn from late Egunjobi’s account.
Within the same period, the police said Okpala paraded himself as a business partner of Lawal and allegedly colluded with Aghanenu to withdraw N10m from Lawal’s account in tranches.
A police source told our correspondent that investigation of the alleged fraud commenced after a lawyer to the deceased’s relatives and Lawal respectively lodged complaints to the bank, adding that the manager had been sacked.
The source said, “The bank reported the fraud to the police and in the course of investigation, it was discovered that the fraudulent transactions were carried out by Okpala with the knowledge of the ex-manager and others at large.
“Okpala presented himself and another suspect at the Ecobank’s branch in Ejigbo as relatives of the late Oluremi (Egunjobi) and instructed the bank to liquidate her account, which was done through the help of the ex-manager. But he (Aghanenu) denied knowing Okpala.
“The other victim, Lawal, works in UK and saves money at the bank with the hope of using the money to invest when he relocates to Nigeria. It was when he checked his account balance that he discovered the withdrawals and complained to the bank.”
PUNCH Metro learnt that a team of policemen from the Ikoyi division led by one Sergeant Damian Oguinye, picked up Aghanenu and Okpala on Wednesday at the Ebute-Meta Magistrate’s Court, where the latter was allegedly facing another fraud trial.
They were arraigned in an Igbosere Magistrate’s Court on Thursday on five counts bordering on fraud and forgery by a police prosecutor, Friday Mameh.
Mameh told the court that the offences contravened sections 287, 361, 409 and 378 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2011.
The counts read in part, “That you, Ikechukwu Aghanenu, Anthony Okpala and others now at large, between September 2015 and November 2015, at the Ecobank Nigeria Plc, in the Lagos Magisterial District, did conspire among yourselves to commit felony to wit: forgery and stealing.
“That you did forge the instruction of one Oluremi Egunjobi, a deceased and an account holder of Ecobank Nigeria Plc, fraudulently liquidated the customer’s investment in account number 5323007058 of the sum of N4.014m property of Ecobank Nigeria Plc.
“That you, and others at large, did fraudulently convert the sum of N10m in tranches from Ecobank account number 2741128259 belonging to Rabiu Lawal to account number 53220002455 with the name Okeneme Samuel.”
The defendants, however, pleaded not guilty to the counts before the magistrate, Mr. P. A. Adekomaya.
They were granted bail in the sum of N3m each with two sureties each in like sum while the case was adjourned till September 6, 2016.