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EFCC drags lawyer to court over alleged N91m land fraud

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Enugu Zonal Command on Wednesday, arraigned one Barrister Mike Ikegbunam before Justice Mohammed Umar of the Federal High Court sitting in Enugu on a seven-count charge bordering on alleged money laundering and obtaining by false pretence to the tune of N91,000,000.00.


A statement shared on its social media page on Friday said one of the counts reads: “That you, Mike Ikegbunam on 16th August, 2022 in Umuagu Ozu Village, Anambra State within the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court of Nigeria with intent to defraud, induced the Senior Staff Association of Universities, Teaching Hospitals, Research Institutes and Associated Institutions of Nigeria to deliver to you, the sum of N25,000,000.00 (Twenty-Five Million naira) under the pretence that you are capable of acquiring some portions of land for their members at Umuagu Ndiukwuanu Town in Orumba North Local Government Area of Anambra State which pretence you knew to be false and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 1 (1) (a) of Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act, 2006 and punishable under Section 1 (3) of the same Act”.


He pleaded “not guilty” when the charges were read to him.”


In view of his plea, Counsel to the EFCC, Nuradeen Shehu Ingawa prayed the court for a trial date and for the defendant to be remanded at the Correctional Centre. The defence counsel, A. G. Anyigo prayed the court to admit his client to bail adding that “the defendant is a very responsible personality in the society”.


Responding, Ingawa vehemently opposed the bail application based on the gravity of the offence and urged the court to dismiss the bail application.


In his ruling, Justice Umar granted the defendant bail on self recognizance being a legal practitioner on the conditions that the defendant must deposit his Call to Bar Certificate with the court and make available one surety, who must be his cousin.


The defendant was remanded at the EFCC custody pending the fulfilment of the bail conditions.


The judge adjourned the matter to March 21, 2024 for trial.


“Ikegbunam was arrested on July 12, 2023 owing to the claims of the Senior Staff Association of Universities, Teaching Hospitals, Research Institutes and Associated Institutions (SSAUTHRIAI), Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital Nnewi Branch, alleging that its members paid N91million to him for the purchase of 130 (One Hundred and Thirty) plots of land at Umuagu, Ozu Ndiukwuanu Town, in Orumba North Local Government Area of Anambra State.


“Investigations showed that the defendant, who has refunded N10,000,000.00 (Ten Million Naira) to the Association, used N16,500,000 (Sixteen Million, Five Hundred Thousand Naira), suspected to be part of the money to acquire three plots of land for himself at Dubai Estate, Phase 2 in Awka, Anambra State,” the statement added.

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