By Ahmed Rahma
The former Managing Director of Finbank Plc, Mr Okey Nwosu, has been convicted and sentenced to three years imprisonment after being found guilty for over N10 billion fraud by Justice Lateefa A. Okunnu of the Lagos State High Court sitting in Ikeja, on Tuesday, January 5, 2021.
Mr Nwosu, alongside his fellow defendants, Dayo Famuroti, Agnes Ebubedike and Danjuma Ocholi had been arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) bordering on stealing and illegal conversion to the tune of N10.9 billion.
However, they had earlier pleaded not guilty to the charge preferred against them, thereby leading to their full trial.
In the course of the trial of the defendants, who committed the fraud while they were directors of the bank, the prosecution counsel, Mr Rotimi Jacobs, called witnesses and also tendered several documents that were admitted in evidence against them.
Delivering her judgement, the judge found the defendants guilty and sentenced Mr Nwosu and Famoroti to three years imprisonment each, Ocholi to 12 months imprisonment and Ebubedike to six-month community service.
The case had suffered a setback as the defendants challenged the jurisdiction of the trial court up to the supreme court.
While the court maintained its jurisdiction to try the defendants, Mr Nwosu approached the Lagos Division of the court of appeal which in November 2013 struck out the charge against the banker.
The appellate court ruled that the Lagos High Court lacked jurisdiction to entertain the charges because they emanated from capital market transactions, which should be handled by the Federal High Court.
Following the appeal court ruling, Dayo Famoroti, Danjuma Ocholi and Agnes Ebubedike approached the Lagos High Court to dismiss the charges preferred against them.
But the counsel to EFCC had prayed the court to adjourn the matter indefinitely pending the determination of its appeal at the supreme court.
Justice Okunnu upheld prayers of Mr Jacobs and adjourned the matter sine die to allow the supreme court rule on the matter, which later upheld EFCC’s appeal.
In a unanimous judgment, a seven-man panel of Justices of the apex court faulted the argument of the court of appeal that the decision by the EFCC to charge Mr Nwosu and the other directors for stealing before the Lagos High Court while it maintained a charge of money laundering against them, would amount to double jeopardy.
The supreme court, therefore, directed Mr Nwosu and co-defendants to submit themselves for trial before the Lagos High Court.
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