Fraudster Demands $2mn from Ibru as EFCC Seals Atuche’s Assets

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC has told an FCT high court in Abuja how a fake official of the anti-graft agency who was recently arrested and arraigned approached a former CEO of Oceanic International Bank Plc, Mrs Cecilia Ibru to extort two million dollars ($2million) from her.

Ibru was sacked as the CEO of Oceanic bank last year while the EFCC arraigned her on a 25 count charge on August 31, 2009. 

Uwajeh’s trouble began when he was arrested at his Wuse II, Abuja residence on Wednesday January 13, 2010 following an intelligence report which indicated that he was impersonating officials of EFCC. A team of operatives was subsequently mandated to trail and arrest him after a discreet investigation confirmed the initial report. His arrest led to the recovery of incriminating items. 

Some of the items recovered from the suspect’s house include a pack of complimentary cards with EFCC’s logo and address bearing the suspect’s name, fake EFCC letter head papers, a petition with EFCC acknowledgement stamp and a host of others. 

The accused was subsequently arraigned on a four count charge on January 28, 2010.Further investigation has however shown that one of the victims of Uwajeh’s illicit trade is Mrs Ibru whom he approached to extort $2 million to help her scale down EFCC’s investigations on her.

Following the fresh findings, the Commission filed an amended two count charge in addition to the initial four count charge for which the accused has been remanded in Kuje prison since January 28.

When the matter came up the trial judge, Justice Adebunkola Banjoko granted the prosecution’s application for a freezing order on all the assets of the accused. Uwajeh’s property which the court ordered confiscated include landed property, his bank accounts and a fleet of vehicles which include a Hummer Jeep, Honda Jeep, Toyota Land Cruiser jeep and a Hilux Jeep. He is also to deposit both his Nigeria and British Passport with the registrar of the court.

Meanwhile in another development the EFCC has placed restraining seals on at least seven properties belonging to the former Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of BankPHB, Mr Francis Atuche in choice areas of Lagos. 

The exercise was carried out to give effect to an ex parte order granted the Commission by a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos compelling Atuche to disclose all his properties to the EFCC on March 1st , 2010. Atuche is standing trial on charges of money laundering.

Seven properties belonging to the former bank chief in Lagos were placed “Under Investigation and Restrained” by the EFCC. The houses are located in Ikoyi, Victoria Island, Lekki and Surulere. Three of the properties are in Ikoyi and they include those on No 11, Raymond Njoku, Ikoyi; N0 2, Falomo Close, Ikoyi and No 21, Alfred Rewane Road, Ikoyi. Two of the properties are in Victoria Island and they are on No 4, Saka Tinubu, Victoria Island and No 14B, Anifowoshe Street, Victoria Island. 

Others are one property in Lekki at Road 43, G169, Victoria Garden City, Lekki and another one in Surulere at No 57, Ilesanmi Street, Asoba Private Estate, Surulere. The restraining exercise was carried out without hitch.

The restraining exercise is expected to continue in other locations in Nigeria where Atuche has properties. It will be recalled that several properties belonging to other former bank chiefs being prosecuted by the EFCC had been seized in like manner. They include those of Mr Erastus Akingbola of Intercontinental bank and Mrs Cecilia Ibru of Oceanic bank. 

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