A court in Anambra State has heard how an apprentice who rose to become a manager of a company systematically defrauded his employers of N40 million using his friend’s account.
The apprentice, Ikechukwu Obiekwe, Emma Ogonna Obiekwe and Ugo Chuwudi appeared before Justice V.T. Nwoye of the Anambra State High Court, Onitsha, on an eight-count charge bordering on conspiracy, stealing and conversion to the tune of N40 million.
Their journey to the dock began when the EFCC received a petition alleging that Ikechukwu, while under the employ of Rainbow Hair International, in 2014 as an apprentice and later, manager, of one of the company’s branches in Onitsha, defrauded the company of millions of naira.
The petitioner further alleged that there was a downfall in revenue generated by the company at the branch that Ikechukwu was overseeing, which prompted the decision to engage an auditor in 2019 to audit the branch.
The audit confirmed the fears, as it revealed that as much as N40million was diverted from the coffers of the company.
Investigations by the EFCC revealed that Ikechukwu in defrauding the company, used Chukwudi’s account number, which he gave to customers to make payment for goods bought, instead of paying into the account of the company. Under the directive of Ikechukwu, the money will afterwards be transferred by Chukwudi, into the accounts of Ikechukwu’s siblings.
A cumulative sum of N18,145,530 (Eighteen Million, One Hundred and Forty Five Thousand, Five Hundred and Thirty Naira) was found to have been paid into the bank account of Chukwudi, while N1,497,000 (One Million, Four Hundred and Ninety Seven Thousand Naira) was credited to the account of Obiekwe.
Investigations further revealed that Ikechukwu used the illegally acquired money to purchase two plots of land in Asaba, Delta State, at the cost of N1,200,000.
The defendants pleaded “not guilty” to the charges.
In view of their pleas, the prosecuting counsel, M.A. Ekwu, asked for a trial date.
Counsel for the first and second defendants, moved their bail applications, which was granted by the court.
Justice Nwoye granted the first and second defendants bail in the sum of N10million with one surety each in like sum, who must be a businessman within the jurisdiction of the court. The international passports of the sureties are also to be submitted to the court, with their addresses verified by the court and the prosecution. The third defendant was allowed to continue with the administrative bail earlier granted by the EFCC.
They were ordered to be remanded in the Correctional Centre , pending the perfection of their bail conditions, with the trial to resume on January 29, 2020.