N1.6bn Fraud: I’m Only Account Officer, Not Part of Alleged Fraud – Witness

A staff of Heritage Bank, Joseph Iwejuo, who is being tried alongside , Wariparno-Owei Dudafa, former domestic aide to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, on Tuesday, told a Federal High Court, Lagos, that he only acted as an account officer to some companies charged with N1.6bn fraud and did not take part in the said fraud.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had preferred criminal chsrges against the said companies,i Dudafa and Iwejuo on the alleged N1.6bn fraud.
The companies charged are Seagate Property Development & Investment Ltd, Avalon Global Property Development Company Ltd, Pluto Property and Investment Company Ltd, Ebiwise Resources Ltd, and Rotate Interlink Services Ltd.
EFCC arraigned them before Justice Mohammed Idris on 23-counts of conspiracy to conceal proceeds of crime.
The prosecution closed its case on March 16, 2018, but the accused opted to make a no-case submission in its defence and urged the court to dismiss the case, on the grounds that the prosecution failed to establish any case against them.
Justice Idris in a ruling delivered in August, dismissed the no case submission of the accused, on the grounds that they had some explanations to make on the exhibits and evidences tendered by prosecution.
He consequently ordered them to enter a defence.
When trial resumed on Tuesday, Iwejuo told the court that the exhibit represents document brought by directors of the company (Avalon) on the day the account was opened for the company.
He said some of the directors as listed in the mandate form of the company includes one Oluwole Isaiah, Michael Agbo, among others, adding that the names were then sent to the legal department of the bank for authentication.
According to the accused, when the corporate account was opened at the time, there was no requirement for a Bank Verification Number (BVN), but when a BVN became necessary, he drew the attention of the directors to the fact, who subsequently provided a BVN.
The accused told the court that he is not a shareholder of the company, and that the BVN was not generated from his bank, adding that the first deposit into the account was N100,000.
He also told the court that the said exhibit also showed inflows of payments into the account by some directors like Abubakar Murtala, and one Olugbenga, but said he knew nothing about the inflows.
The witness said one of the conditions for corporate account opening is the verification of the addresses of the companies, which he did in Lagos and Yenagoa.
According to the accused, he was taken to the three different offices of three companies including: Avalon, Seagate and Pluto, and was introduced as account officer.
He said such verification visit was conducted only once, “except where there was a change of address or such other necessary changes which would require another visit.’’
The accused told the court that he was surprised when after seven days in custody of the EFCC, he was taken back to the addresses of the same companies and he discovered that the addresses had changed.
He said Seagate, which occupied No. 200 as its office address had what looked like a large hall, and the office space occupied by Avalon had A1 Global Integrated Driving School in its place, while Pluto was replaced by a BDC office.
The witness told the court that he had no knowledge of the changes in address as the company had not written to the bank to inform it.
He told the court that he only acted as an account officer in these scenarios, and urged the court to discharge him of the charges.
The continuation of trial will resume on September 25.

Author: News Editor

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