N197.2m theft: Access Bank, 2 others face 21-count charge

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By Godiya Garba

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has dragged Access Bank plc and two of its staff before a Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court sitting in Zuba, FCT.
What started as a bank-customer relationship is now a subject of litigation as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC),  slammed  a 21-count charge against two female bankers of Access Bank Plc. The  bank and the staff that are now facing now trial are Olawunmi Audu and Glory Michael Sado.
EFCC has dragged the two bankers before a  High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT),  Abuja, for allegedly stealing about N197.2 million from the account of a customer, De Chimex Aluminium and Steel Company Limited, an Abuja based company.
The anti-graft agency alleged that the defendants conspired and transfered the sum of N197.2 million from the account of De Chimex Aluminium and Steel Company Ltd which was domiciled with Access Bank Plc.
 The second defendant, Glory Sado, who was the Relationship Manager of the company, is said to be currently at large.
However,  the planned arraignment of the defendants before Justice A. O. Ebong, of the Zuba Division of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court could as scheduled. 
The arraignment of the two Access Bank Staff was put on hold at the instance of the Counsel to EFCC, Halidu Mohammed, who asked the court for an adjournment in order to enable the commission review the charges against the two bankers standing trial.
The application for adjournment by the EFCC counsel was not opposed to by the defence  counsel.
In his short ruling, Justice Ebong adjourned the matter to March 22, for their arraignment.
This is the second time the arraignment of the two bankers would be put on hold as the the first attempt at arraigning the two bankers on January, 22, 2021 suffered a setback.
According to the charge which bordered on forgery and theft, the Defendants, had between May and June 2018, allegedly transferred the funds to the account of a firm, Mikuch Global Ltd, which was operated by the 2nd Defendant.
They were alleged to have forged a document titled: “Access Bank Fund Transfer/Standing Order From” with different serial numbers, with a purported signature of one Paschal Nwabueze Innocent, the MD of De Chimex Aluminium and Steel Company Ltd.
EFCC said the Defendants had by their action, committed offences that are punishable under sections 85, 287, and 364 of the Penal Code Act Chapter 53 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria.
The matter which has suffered setback in the arraignment of the two Access Bank suspect began nearly three years ago when Mr Paschal Nwabueze Innocent noticed an infraction in his accounts accounts domiciled with Access Bank.
In a petition to the EFCC by Wisdom Elum of Wisdom Elum Chambers, Solicitors to Nawbueze Innocent,  the petitioner said that no reasonable explanation were given by the bank on how the unauthorised and fraudulent withdrawals were made between April to May, 2018.
The petition to the anti graft agency further noted that ” while our client persistently asked that the bank to furnish him with explanation on the observed discrepancies, the accounts officer told our client that she transfered the aforesaid sum and furnished our client with a Telex stating transfer of the said sum to a company in China.
According to the petition, “our client suspected and questioned the genuineness of the said Telex and took it to Access Bank for verification only to find out that the said was forged and cloned by his Account officer, Uche Michael and her cohorts”.

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