By Emmanuel Udom
The Uyo zonal office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission EFCC, on Monday, October 12, 2020, arraigned one Ikechi Romanus Friday and his company, Premium Veroni Nigeria Limited on a two-count charge bordering on obtaining by false pretence and stealing to the tune of N38m (Thirty eight million naira) before Justice Lillian Abai of the Abia State High Court sitting in Aba, Abia State.
Wilson Uwujaren, head, media & publicity for the anti-grafy agency said the defendant was arrested on September 11, 2020, at 242 Aba-Owerri road, Aba, Abia state, following a petition sent to the Commission by one Justice Jeco Osondu who alleged that he paid the said sum to the defendant for the purchase of a landed property at Mbaji in Umuoji village, Ode-Ukwu autonomous community, Abia state.
According to the petitioner, Ikechi received the money from him, but refused to hand over the documents of the property which he later re-sold to another buyer and still failed to refund his money.
One of the counts against Ikechi reads; “Ikechi Romanus Friday “M” and Premium Veroni Nigeria Limited between the 31st day of October, 2019 and 5th day of February 2020, at Aba within the jurisdiction of this Court, with intent to defraud, stole by fraudulently converting to your own use, the sum of N32, 000, 000. 00 before Justice Jeco Osondu”.
The offence which contravenes the provisions of Section 383 (1), is Criminal Code Cap C80 Volume 3, Laws of Abia State of Nigeria 2005, is punishable under Section 390 of the same law.
The defendant pleaded not guilty to the charges preferred against him. In view of his plea, counsel to the EFCC, Nwandu Ukoha, prayed the court to fix a trial date and remand the defendant in the Nigeria Correctional Service’s custodial centre in the state.
But the defence counsel, Nnamdi Ahunanya. Informed the court of a pending bail application which was filed on September 29, 2020. He moved the application and prayed the court to grant the defendant bail on liberal terms.
Ukoha opposed the application and prayed the court to remand the accused and grant accelerated hearing in the matter.
The matter was thereafter adjourned to October 15, 2020 for ruling on the bail application and commencement of trial while the defendant was remanded in the Custodial Centre, Aba.