April 24, 2024

Co-defendant in Kogi Assembly candidate’s trial once investigated for multi-million Naira fraud – Witness

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Co-defendant in Kogi Assembly candidate’s trial once investigated for multi-million Naira fraud - Witness

Glory Ebomah

The first prosecution witness, PW1, Olusegun Falola, in the ongoing trial of Ismaila Yousouf Atumeyi, a Kogi State House of Assembly candidate of the New Nigeria Peoples Party, NNPP, on Friday, February 3, 2023, told Justice Tijani Ringim of the Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos that one of his co-defendants, Abdulmalik Salau, a former employee of Union Bank Plc, had once been investigated for various fraudulent practices worth “Hundreds of Millions of Naira” by the Police.

Atumeyi is standing trial alongside Ngene Joshua Dominic and Salau on charges bordering on 18 counts of alleged cybercrime and money laundering to the tune of N1.4bn.

At the resumed sitting today, Falola, an Internal Auditor and Team Lead, General Investigations, Union Bank Plc, told the court that Salau worked at the IT Department of the bank and was indicted in a fraud case.

Led in evidence by the prosecution counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, SAN, Falola said: “He had worked with the bank before, but was indicted in a fraudulent case that had to do with manipulation of expense through the back end.

“That case led to his exit.  After his exit, he was also indicted in another case running into hundreds of Millions of Naira that were moved from the bank.

“The case was investigated by the Special Fraud Unit of the Nigeria Police”.

Earlier in his testimony during the proceedings, Falola told the court that there were illegitimate transactions on the accounts of 575 customers of the bank, some of which had a “No-debit” restriction.

“The sum of N1.38bn was the total credit moved into Fav Oil & Gas Ltd. And as at the time of noticing it, the balance left was N519m, implying that over N800m had been dissipated from the account of Fav Oil & Gas.

“From Atus Homes Ltd., over N681m was the alleged fraudulent sum credited to the account.

“At the time of discovery, the balance in the account was N70.2m, implying that over N600m had been dissipated,” he added.

Head, Media and Publicity, EFCC, Wilson Uwujaren, said when the accused was asked by Oyedepo if it were possible to take money from accounts with a no-debit order, without verification, Falola said “no”

According to him, in normal banking operations, it is not possible to take money from such accounts without verification.

He said: “The accounts were on “Post No Debit, PND; and no staff member of the bank will be able to debit such accounts, except if there is an approval, which will in turn lead to the modification of such accounts to allow for debit posting.

“From internal reviews, we noticed that these modifications were done through the back-end, and that could only be done by someone with IT skills.

“And there were no documents from the bank supporting the modification.”

He added that the fraudulent transactions took place between September 19 and October 21, 2022.

Justice T.G Ringim adjourned the matter till March 20, 2023, for the continuation of trial.

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