Commercial Law

N175m fraud: Court grants Zenith Bank manager bail

A Federal High Court in Lagos on Tuesday granted bail to the Asaba branch Manager of Zenith Bank Plc., Fidelis Egueke, who was earlier arraigned over N179.4 million fraud.

The trial judge, Justice Chuka Obiozor, admitted the Zenith Bank Manager to bail in the sum of N50m with one surety, who must be a resident within the court’s jurisdiction.

Justice Chuka Obiozor also ordered that the surety must have evidence of three years tax payment, title deed and one year statement of account.

Justice Chuka Obiozor further ordered that all the  bail terms must be verified by the court’s Deputy Chief Registrar (DCR).

Egueke is however to remain in Police custody until the perfection of his bail. Justice Chuka Obiozor ordered further remand of the Zenith Bank Manager, who was charged before the court over his alleged involvement in fraud to the tune of N179.498 million, in the custody of the Force Criminal Invested Department (ForceCID) Headquarters annex, Alagbon, Ikoyi, Lagos.

The trial court equally ordered the remand of the Zenith Bank Manager for another seven days, at the instance of his counsel, Mr. C. A. Ajuyah (SAN), who pleaded with the court, to allow him to be in the police custody rather than in the custody of of Nigerian Correctional Services (NCoS), till when he would have perfected his bail terms. 

When the trial commenced, counsel to the Zenith Bank Manager, Ajuyah (SAN), upon moving his application, told the court that his client has credible sureties to stand and that he will not evade the trial, neither will he tamper or interfere with the prosecution’s evidences and witnesses. 

But the prosecutor, Mr Morufu Animashaun, while vehemently opposing the application, said the defendant is a ‘flight risk’, and that he may not turn up for his trial if granted bail. He therefore urged the court to refuse the application.

In his ruling, Justice Chuka Obiozor held that, “Granting bail to a defendant, is at court’s discretion”.

While he adjourned trial until March 16, 24, 25, 30 and 31, 2021, Justice  Obiozor ordered that the Zenith Bank Manager be remanded with the ForceCID, Alagbon, Ikoyi, Lagos, for seven days, after which he will be transfered to the Nigerian Correctional Services’ custody. 

While arraigning the Zenith Bank Manager, the prosecutor, Animashaun, had hinted the judge that the defendant and others now at large, between May 14, 2010 and December 31, 2019, at No. 2 Balogun Close, Ikoyi, Lagos, conspired among themselves to obtain the said sum from one Dr. Jude Eugene, Managing Director of Global Select Investment Services Limited, by false pretence that he will help him sell some goods and remit money to his bank.

Animashaun further informed the court that the Zenith Bank branch Manager, upon selling the goods, diverted the proceeds to his Zenith Bank Account Number 1020019782, even as he informed the fraud victim, Dr. Jude, that most of the goods he imported from USA were inferior and un-demanded for.

The prosecutor told the court that the offences committed by the defendant are contrary to Section 8(a) and 1(1) of the Advance Fee Fraud and other Fraud Related Offences Act No. 14 of 2006 and punishable under section 1(3) of the same Act, and Section 390 (7) Criminal Code Act Laws of Federation 2004.

The Zenith Bank manager however pleaded not guilty to the allegations.

Consequent upon the not guilty plea of the Zenith Bank Manager, the prosecutor asked the court for trial date, and  asked  the court to remand him in the custody of the Nigerian Correctional Services (NCS) pending the determination of the charges against him.

But counsel to the defendant, Richard Ahonaruogho, while not opposing the trial date as requested by the prosecutor, however orally urged the court to grant  bail to his client, the demand which was turned down by trial judge, on the ground that the court is a court of record.

Consequently, Justice Obiozor adjourned till Tuesday, December 1, 2020, for hearing of defendant’s bail application.

The judge also directed that the Zenith Bank Manager be remanded in the custody of the FCID till the hearing and determination of the bail application.

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