The Lagos zonal command of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), on Tuesday, May 2, presented its first prosecution witness, Adeniyi Oy
The Lagos zonal command of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), on Tuesday, May 2, presented its first prosecution witness, Adeniyi Oyewole, managing director, Ano Farms Limited, against one Usman Abubakar, who is facing trial for an alleged N950 million fraud.
Usman, who was brought before Justice Mojisola Dada of the special offences court in Ikeja, Lagos, is facing five counts bordering on conspiracy, stealing and attempt to steal and obtain by false pretence preferred against him by the EFCC.
The anti-graft agency also alleged that Usman and his foundation, Young Alhaji Foundation, on September 20, 2022, attempted to divert the sum of N180 million, property of Ano Farms Limited, to the use of one Abdullahi Mohammed.
However, Usman pleaded “not guilty” to the charges when he was first arraigned on February 22, 2023.
Oyewole, who was led in evidence by the prosecution counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo (SAN), narrated how his paths crossed that of the defendant leading him to part with the money.
The witness said that the company was into processing of agricultural products and needed foreign exchange to facilitate importation at some point in time.
He said that, “We were introduced to Dr. Abu Fawaz, who lives in Ghana, and w travelled down to see him.
“We met and had various discussions and negotiations.
“After which, I returned with an aggregate funds for the transaction.
“It summed up to N950 million for us to access the equivalent in US dollars,” Oyewole added.
He also testified further that having raised the money, he reached out to Fawaz, who provided a First Bank account in Nigeria to receive the N950 million.
Oyewole added that the said account belonged to Young Alhaji Foundation.
He said that, “Upon the transfer, I reached out to Fawaz to confirm receipt on September 19, 2022, but he got back to me in the evening that the funds had not been received.
“I reached out to my banker, who confirmed the funds in the account, and so, I reached out to Fawaz again, who still insisted that the funds were not there.”
The witness, who suspected that something seemed amiss, told the court that he immediately reached out to his account manager at FCMB to help recall the funds from First Bank.
Following through with the request, as advised by his account manager, he wrote an email to the bank to make the request.
“However, I was told that the funds received were for sale of a property purchased by the sender,” Oyewole said.
The witness noted that he immediately responded that it was not so as claimed by the holder of the recipient’s account, as he never purchased any property.
He added that upon pressing further for the recall, the recipient’s bank told him that he would need to get a court order within 72 hours, else they will allow him access to the fund.
Oyewole also told the court that he immediately contacted his lawyer, who reached out to the EFCC and also went to court.
He said that, “I also tried to reach out to the owner of the account (Young Alhaji Foundation) that the said fund in his account was transferred to access forex and that we were yet to receive the said sum.
“He then mentioned to me that he is not aware of my transaction, however, he advised that I should reach out to my accountant.
“He said that as far as he was concerned, payment made to him was for debt owed to him, and that the total debt owed him was $12 million.
“He also told me that the N950 million was part payment, and that a large corporation he deals with was going to give him $7 million cash,” Oyewole added.
He testified further that Fawaz later confirmed to him that the money was received, adding that the fund was blocked in the receiver’s account.
Oyewole noted that Fawaz told him that his “bosses were angry” at the development and so will not be going on with the transaction.
“I reached out to Usman Abubakar and pleaded with him, that I would allow the lien to be taken off once I received the dollar equivalent as expected,” he said.
Oyewole, however, informed the court that he was later informed by his lawyer that Usman, in fact, had taken First Bank to court in Abuja for declining him access to the fund, and was asking the court to order the bank to release the money to him.
The witness told the court that his lawyers afterwards petitioned the EFCC.
He identified the said petition, which was a bundle of documents, including the printout of the email correspondence, the printout of several WhatsApp conversations with both Fawaz and Abubakar, and a flash drive containing the phone conversations with both Fawaz and Abubakar.
They were all admitted in evidence as exhibits P to P2 by the court.
Thereafter, the counsel for the first defendant, Olatubosun Olanipekun (SAN), asked the court for an adjournment, adding that he needed documents from his client, who was only able to meet his bail conditions on April 25.
“With due respect, we have not had time to meet him, and I need documents from him to conduct the matter,” he said.
Meanwhile, counsel for Young Alhaji Foundation, G.C. Ugwulweze, also pleaded for an adjournment, arguing that he was coming in fresh into the matter.
Consequently, Justice Dada adjourned the case till June 13, 16, 19 and 23.