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Monday, December 4, 2023

EFCC arraigns oil magnate for alleged N24.3million fraud

The Port Harcourt’s Zonal Command of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has arraigned an oil magnate, Azubuike Uzoma, before Justice A.T. Mohammed of the Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, for an alleged illegal dealing in petroleum products to the tune of N24,310,000 (Twenty Four Million, Three Hundred and Ten Thousand Naira).

He was arraigned on October 25, 2023, on three-count charges bordering on money laundering and illegal dealing in petroleum products.

One of the count charges reads: “That you, Azubuike Uzoma (trading under the name & style of ALVIN D INTERNATIONAL), sometimes in June 2022, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, took possession of the aggregate sum of N23,310,000.00 (Twenty Three Million, Three Hundred and Ten Thousand Naira) paid into your account with Keystone Bank Limited, when you reasonably ought to have known that the said fund formed part of the proceeds of an unlawful activity, to wit: illegal dealing in petroleum products, and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 18(2)(d) of the Money Laundering Act”.

He pleaded not guilty to the charges when they were read to him.

In view of his plea, prosecution counsel Abdulrahman Abubakar prayed the court to fix a date for trial and for the defendant to be remanded in a correctional facility. Counsel to the defendant, C .J. Nmerem, did not oppose the prayers of the prosecution but urged the court to grant his client bail to enable him prepare for his trial.

Justice Mohammed thereafter granted the defendant bail in the sum of N1, 000,000.00 (One Million Naira), and two sureties in like sum. One of the sureties must be a civil servant with the Rivers State government not below grade level 14, and the other surety shall be a family member of the defendant. The sureties must deposit two recent passport photographs with the court and must have verifiable addresses.

The judge adjourned the matter till January 22, 2024, for the commencement of trial.

Azubuike’s case started when operatives of the Commission arrested him at the Ndoni Community of Onelga Local Government Area of Rivers State for alleged illegal dealing in petroleum products and money laundering.

Investigations showed that the defendant is into a fraudulent oil business by defrauding his clients into paying several amounts of money for the supply of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) from Warri depot. He neither supplied the products nor returned the clients’ money to them.

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