EFCC Presents First Witness Against Defendants In Alleged N996m Fraud In Lagos

EFCC Presents First Witness Against Defendants In Alleged N996m Fraud In Lagos EfCC news
Defendants
The Lagos Zonal Command of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on July 6, 2023, presented its first prosecution witness, PW1, Kola Oyeneye, President, Volition Capital Investment Staff (Eti-Osa) Cooperative Multipurpose Society Limited, against the duo of Taiwo Oluwadahunsola and Adebola Adetayo, who are facing trial over an alleged N996,000,311.00 fraud,
before Justice O.O. Abike-Fadipe of the Special Offences Court sitting in Ikeja, Lagos.

The defendants, alongside a company, Green Eagles Limited, were arraigned on Thursday March 23, 2023, on a 19-count charge bordering on conspiracy to steal, stealing, money laundering, and offences in relation to issuance of dishonoured cheques to the tune of N996,000,311.00.

They pleaded "not guilty" to the charges.

At today’s proceedings, Oyeneye, while being led in evidence by the prosecution counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, SAN, narrated how the defendants connived to defraud the Cooperative.

He said: “Between March and August, 2020 when we were just coming out from COVID, every quarter, we tried to see companies that we wanted to put funds together to invest in a business.

"In the case of Green Eagles Limited, shortlisted by our team to consider investing in, we did the typical due diligence that we do on companies that we sign off and invest in.

"We had meetings with the first and second defendants and visited sites that they supposedly owned to prove that they run an agricultural entity in Nigeria.

"After this was done, as we normally do, we created a specific investment plan between our Cooperative and Green Eagles Limited.

"It was called Farm Estate Management, and the purpose was that in the first two years of our investments, our capital, which we would typically collate as a collective investment from members, including retirees who trust us with their monies due to our integrity over the years, was presented to this company that we would be investing in.”

The sum total of the investment, he said, was N950 million which, according to him, was paid in tranches, following the agreement with the defendants in August 2020.

He explained that due to the huge investment, the Cooperative had insisted that it was not going to be paying money directly to the company.

"We appointed a trustee, FBN Quest Trustees, brought it into the agreement, and addressed our own part of the agreement , which was to ensure that the funds were disbursed in time, so that they could meet up with the (purported) planting, as they presented it to us-so that they would be able to meet up with the returns the following year," he said.

He noted that as difficult as it was to put the funds together, "we did, because we didn't want to default on our own side of the obligation.”

According to him, following the investment, "between December 2020 and January 2021, we started to see online news circulating that Green Eagles Limited's Directors, who are the first and second defendants, were accused of defrauding countless retail investors, who had put in small money into their agro-wealth plan, and this caught the team's attention."

He told the court that he immediately called Taiwo, the CEO, who simply "brushed it off that there was nothing like that…that only one person had an issue and that they were trying to sort it out in Port Harcourt.”

According to him, the development was just two months after the final disbursement and "so we became uneasy immediately; and from that point, we started our own investigation".

He further said: "We spent January and February re-checking everything about this company; and by the end of February towards March that we expected the first tranche of our investment paid in September- it was to be due for us and then we pay out to members.

"I personally made a surprise visit to their office in Maryland, Ikeja, Lagos, where I met Adebola to enquire about the first returns as agreed.

"It was at this point that it dawned on us that everything that we had been hearing about the company, until that time, was about to be true because Adebola immediately said she was having high blood pressure and not feeling well, and that they wanted to defer for another three months to the end of June."

He testified further that it was realised later that whenever the money was paid by FBN Quest Trustees to vendors running into millions of Naira for orders, the defendants would "go behind to collect the money back from the vendors and cancel the orders.”

"So, N950 million was diverted to something else,” he said.

He added that it was later discovered that all the farms that they laid claim to, in Kebbi and Adamawa, which the Cooperative team had also inspected, "didn't belong to them".

He said: "They had organised with locals in those places to showcase the farms as being their own, using the means to convince our team that they were a legitimate enterprise. “

According to him, Green Eagles Limited defaulted in paying returns and issued cheques for payments that were never honoured.

He said: "Between that period and now, not one Naira has come back to our Cooperative out of the total sum that was given to them.

"There was nothing we didn't do to try and check if there was any element of genuineness in this entity called Green Eagles, Taiwo or Adebola.

"This was premeditated, and they set out to receive money from innocent individuals, retail and corporate like us, with no intension at all to do business."

He further told the court that following the development, the Cooperative wrote a petition to the EFCC.

Thereafter, the prosecution applied to tender the said petition along with its attached documents , having been identified by the witness.

There was no objection from the defence counsel, O. Ajanaku.

The petition and the attached documents were admitted in evidence as Exhibits P1, P1a and P1b.

The prosecution also tendered, in evidence, several documents, including the agreement between all parties, several proforma invoices exchanged in the course of the transactions, and minutes of meeting had with Green Eagles Limited on June 28, 2021.

There was no objection from the defence and they were all admitted in evidence against the defendants.

The case was adjourned till December 13 and 14, 2023 for continuation of trial.

Category: World-News
Tag: EFCC Presents First Witness Against Defendants In Alleged N996m Fraud In Lagos EfCC news
Written by Omooba Alekuwodo (omoobaalekuwodo)
Published 7/7/2023 11:17:54 PM

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