A Lagos based businessman, Mr. Austin Ugochukwu, yesterday, told a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, how a People’s Democratic Party, PDP, House of Representatives candidate for Eti-Osa Federal Constituency of Lagos State, in the last general election, Anthony Bakare and other members of his group defrauded him of the sum of N240 million, under the pretence of selling dollars to him.
Akala also known as General, and others were first arraigned before Justice Hadiza Rabiu-Shagari, who is now sitting at another jurisdiction of the court, on charges of conspiracy, fraud, and obtaining under false pretence, by Force Criminal Intelligence and Investigation Department, FCIID, Alagbo-Ikoyi, Lagos.
Others standing trial alongside Akala are: Saidi Oke, Bashir Mohammed, Alhaji Umar Ali and two firms: Grantland Investment Nigeria Limited and Abroad Development Foundation.
However, following the transfer of Justice Rabiu-Shagari to another jurisdiction of the court, the case has to start denovo (afresh) before a new judge, Justice Nicholas Oweibo.
At the resumed trial of the accused persons, yesterday, the fraud victim, Ugochukwu while being led in evidence by the prosecutor, Dr Imam Usman narrated to the court, how he was duped of the sum of $869, 900.
Ugochukwu in his evidence in chief before the court, said that on June 14, 2017, a friend of his by name Kunle Adesanya called to inform him that he has a customer who has dollars to sell. Ugochukwu said both of them later went to one Mr Anyawu Cyraicus, who also took them to one Alhaji Umar and Bashir, the second and third defendants.
The witness said that after agreeing to the rate at N360 to a dollar, the defendants gave him a account number of a company they claimed belongs to them, Grantland Investment Limited.
The witness also told the court that after receiving the account number he made enquiries about how to get the $1 million after payment of the naira equivalent and he was assured that once the naira equivalent was paid, they will go and get it from the General who wanted to sell it.
Ugochukwu stated that as soon as the money was released, Bashir left and never came back until 9 p.m., that day, adding that by the time he came back late that evening, he only came with $129,900 leaving a balance of $869,900 which they never paid him.
The fraud victim, Ugochukwu, also said that after the arrest of the accused persons, the third accused, Bashir Mohammed, informed the team of investigators set up Deputy Commissioner of Police Intelligence FCIID, Abuja, that the nickname of the first accused Akala, is ‘General’, and that he was not part of their gang.
Ugochukwu stated that further investigation by the DC, revealed that the former House of Rep. candidate, Akala, is actually the one called ‘General’, by his political associates.
He added that immediately Akala realised that his identity had been revealed as ‘General’, he quickly deleted his social handles, and pleaded with him to settle the case amicably.
Ugochukwu further told the court that during negotiation between him, his lawyer and the accused, the first accused, offered him two properties in lieu of the money and he wrote a statement to that, but his lawyer told him that he could not established any nexus between Akala and the two properties, hence the rejection of such deal.
Upon the rejection of Akala’s offer, the witness said the first defendant (Akala) vowed that if he (Austin) did not accept the offer, he should stop disturbing him.
He further informed the court how he was tricked by the alleged fraudsters to transfer the sum of N350 million to them with the belief and promise that they will instantly give him $1 million in exchange, but only to be given $129,900 USD.
Ugochukwu also told the court how alleged fraudsters carried out their heinous act through the bank account.