A lawyer, Barrister Mike Ikegbunam, has been arraigned before the Federal High Court in Enugu on charges of money laundering and obtaining N91 million by false pretence.
The Enugu Zonal Command of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), on Wednesday, January 31, 2024 arraigned Ikegbunam before Justice Mohammed Garba Umar.
Ikegbunam is facing seven counts of money laundering and obtaining money by false pretence to the tune of N91,000,000.00.
He allegedly defrauded the Senior Staff Association of Universities, Teaching Hospitals, Research Institutes and Associated Institutions (SSAUTHRIAI) by promising to secure 130 plots of land for its members at Umuagu, Ozu Ndiukwuanu Town, in Orumba North Local Government Area of Anambra State.
EFCC in a statement said its investigations revealed that the defendant, who had refunded N10,000,000.00 to the association, used N16,500,000, which was suspected to be part of the money, to purchase three plots of land for himself at Dubai Estate, Phase 2 in Awka, Anambra state.
“That you, Mike Ikegbunam on 16th August, 2022 in Umuagu Ozu Village, Anambra State within the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court of Nigeria with intent to defraud, induced the Senior Staff Association of Universities, Teaching Hospitals, Research Institutes and Associated Institutions of Nigeria to deliver to you, the sum of N25,000,000.00 (Twenty-Five Million naira) under the pretence that you are capable of acquiring some portions of land for their members at Umuagu Ndiukwuanu Town in Orumba North Local Government Area of Anambra State which pretence you knew to be false and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 1 (1) (a) of Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act, 2006 and punishable under Section 1 (3) of the same Act,” One of the counts reads.
Ikegbunam,however, pleaded “not guilty” when the charges were read to him, while the counsel to the EFCC, Nuradeen Shehu Ingawa, prayed to the court for a trial date and for the defendant to be remanded at the Correctional Centre.
The defence counsel, A. G. Anyigo, prayed the court to admit his client to bail, adding that “the defendant is a very responsible personality in society,” while Ingawa opposed the bail application based on the gravity of the offence and urged the court to dismiss the bail application.
Justice Umar, in his ruling, granted the defendant bail on self-recognizance as a legal practitioner under the following conditions.
That the defendant must deposit his Call to Bar Certificate with the court and make available one surety, who must be his cousin.
The defendant was remanded in EFCC custody pending the fulfilment of the bail conditions.
The judge adjourned the matter to March 21, 2024 for trial.