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Massive fraud rocks Ecobank -Couple apprehended

A bank manager with Ecobank Plc, with her husband, who had allegedly defrauded her employers have been arrested while attempting to flee the country.

Mrs Tosin Lawal, a former Customer Service Manager with Ecobank Plc, was charged alongside her husband Michael, with defrauding the bank to the tune of N179.8 million.

The defendants were arrested at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, (MMIA), Lagos, while attempting to escape from the country.

They are facing an 11-count charge of conspiracy and theft before Justice Christopher Balogun. Both have pleaded not guilty.

They were accused of jointly and severally conspiring to defraud the bank of the sum through fraudulent sale of foreign currency.

The offence, according to the charges, contravenes sections 390 and 516 of the Criminal Code Laws of Lagos State, 2003.

The couple had on January 24, 2012 been arraigned before Justice Samuel Candide-Johnson of the same court, who granted the second defendant, Michael, bail in the sum of N5 million before the case was transferred to the present Judge.

When the matter came up for hearing last week Thursday, the prosecuting lawyer, Ola Owodunni informed the judge that the bail application of the second defendant would be left unopposed. He, however, urged the court not to grant the first defendant bail.

Owodunni told the court: “A counter-affidavit has been filed in response to the bail application for the second defendant which explains why the couple should not be granted bail.

“Another fact I want the court to take into consideration is that they were arrested at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport at 9.00 p.m while trying to escape from the country.”

He submitted further that the justice delivery system had been fair enough with the bail granted the first defendant at the first arraignment by Justice Candide-Johnson. The prosecuting counsel added that granting the first defendant bail might result in the couple fleeing the country.

However, the defence lawyer, O. Oyedipo, informed the judge that the case involved a “mere stealing offence”, adding that he is sure the defendants would not run if granted bail.

Oyedipo said: “The Police had initially granted the defendants bail, four months before their arraignment and they did not jump bail, so I see no reason why they should be considered flight risk now.

“It is not peculiar for any applicant to consider running away if granted bail, but what the court does is to impose terms to ensure that applicants turn up for trial”.

The first defendant will however on Tuesday, May 21 know if she is entitled to bail, when the case resumes hearing.

He also submitted that the premises and conclusions of the counter-affidavit opposing the bail application were faulty and urged the court to exercise discretion in favour of the first defendant’s fundamental human right.

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