The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on Wednesday arraigned a former Customs Officer, Chinyere Ekanem and Asuka Ebiye before Justice Maryann E. Anenih of the Federal Capital Territory High Court on a 16-count charge bordering on criminal conspiracy and obtaining money under false pretence to the tune of N40million.
Ekanem, who was in October 2013 declared a deserter by the Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, had, while in the service, connived with Ebiye to defraud unsuspecting victims interested in buying some containers and cars, which she claimed were being auctioned by the Service.
One of the victims, Patrick Ovie, alleged that Ekanem claimed that she could use her position as a customs officer in the office of the deputy comptroller-general, Corporate and Support Service Department, to facilitate the auction of the containers and cars “with attractive returns on their monies”.
It, however, turned out that Ekanem and her accomplice, after collecting money from them, presented the victims with fake auction documents.
Efforts by the victims to get back their money were futile.
One of the counts reads: “That you Chinyere Ekanem sometime in 2013 at Abuja in the Abuja Judicial Division of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory did with intent to defraud obtained the sum of Six Million Naira Only (N6,000,000.00) from Amos Boleigha under the false pretence of purchasing auctioned goods from the Nigeria Customs Service, which you knew to be false and thereby committed an offence contrary to section 1(1)(a) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act, 2006 and punishable under section 1(3) of the same Act.”
Another count reads: “That you Chinyere Ekanem and Asuka Ebiye sometime in 2013 at Abuja in the Abuja Judicial Division of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory did, with intent to defraud, obtained the sum of Three Million, Six Hundred Thousand Naira Only (N3,600,000.00) from Fola Fadahunsi under false pretence and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 1(1)(a) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act, 2006 and punishable under Section 1 (3) of the same Act.”
The accused persons pleaded not guilty to the charges when they were read to them.
In view of their pleas, prosecuting counsel, Onjefu Obe, therefore, asked the court for a trial date.
In response, the defence counsel, Shola Adewale, told the court that there was a pending application for bail.
Justice Anenih adjourned the case to February 8 for hearing on the bail application and ordered Ekanem to be remanded in Suleja Prison, while Ebiye should be remanded in Kuje Prison.