19MIL FRAUD: COURT CONVICTS PREGNANT ECOBANK STAFF

An Ikeja Special Offences Court, Lagos, yesterday sentenced a former employee of Ecobank, Judith Okonkwo, to one year in prison for stealing N19 million from the account of Dangote Flour Mills domicile in the bank. Okonkwo, a 43-year-old pregnant woman, was convicted on a three-count of stealing. She was prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). The EFCC had arraigned Okonkwo alongside three others – Oyebamiji Adewale, Wize Bureau De Change Limited, Maduka Uchenna – on a six-count charge bordering on stealing, failure to exercise due diligence and conspiracy. Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo sentenced Okonkwo to one year in prison but with an option of a N100,000 fine on each count.

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Taiwo found Okonkwo guilty of stealing but discharged and acquitted the other accused on the grounds that the prosecution failed to prove an allegation of conspiracy against them. The judge, while delivering her judgement, said that the prosecution had failed to show evidence linking the 2nd, 3rd and 4th defendants to the crime. She said: “The defendant is hereby sentenced to a one year imprisonment on three counts of stealing. However, according to the EFCC prosecutor, I. J. Banjo, the pregnant banker committed the offence sometime in June 2012 while working as an accountant of the bank. Banjo said that the former banker carried out the theft by providing the code regulating the account details of Dangote to some hackers.

The prosecutor said that the hackers then hacked into the account and transferred the said sum to different bank accounts. He said: “Judith, Adewale, Uchenna, Wize Bureau De Change and others now at large did steal and fraudulently converted to their own use the sum of N19 million belonging to Dangote Flour Mills. “The suspects stole and fraudulently converted the said sum which they transferred to Kehinde Adefowokan’s account No: 0004909171 with Guarantee Trust Bank Plc. “Dangote Mmills received a debit alert and thereafter complained to the bank. Following the complaint, the bank petitioned EFCC to conduct a thorough investigation. Judith was thereafter arrested alongside other accomplices.”