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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has arraigned former Commander of Guards Brigade and erstwhile Commander of the Joint Military Task Force, Maj.-Gen. Emmanuel Atewe over N8.5billion fraud.
This is contained in a statement signed by its Head, Media and Publicity, Mr Wilson Uwujaren, and made available to newsmen in Abuja on Friday, June 3.
Atewe was arraigned before Justice Saliu Saidu of the Federal High Court, Ikoyi Lagos on an 11-count charge bordering on conspiracy, abuse of office and money laundering.
According to the statement, Atewe is charged along with former Director-General of NIMASA, Mr Patrick Ziadeke Akpobolokemi; Kime Engozu and Josphine Otuaga.
The statement said the accused persons allegedly conspired among themselves to divert over N8billion paid into the account of the Joint Military Task Force by NIMASA during the tenure of Akpobolokemi.
The money was alleged to have been converted into foreign exchange and the proceeds shared by the defendants, the statement said.
According to the statement, specifically, payments to the tune of N8. 53 are allegedly made to the JTF’s account with a new generation bank by NIMASA.
“A substantial part of the money, about N6.03billion was converted into dollars by Atewe and Akpobolokemi, through various Bureau De Change operators.
“The money was allegedly handed over to Enzogu and Otuaga, who were business partners to Akpobokelemi, and thereafter shared by the defendants.
The statement said all the accused persons pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Prosecution counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo told the court that he was ready for trial with his witnesses and pleaded for accelerated hearing.
Counsel to the first accused, Mr Mathew Bukar, however, prayed the court to grant his client Akpobolokemi bail, as he had earlier been granted bail by judges in other cases.
Counsel to the third and fourth accused, U.B.E. Innaji also urged the court to exercise its discretion to grant bail in favour of his clients.
However, the court rejected counsel to Gen. Atewem, Mike Ozekhome’s (SAN), prayer to grant his client bail based on self recognition.
Justice Saidu, granted bail to the first accused, Akpobokelemi on the terms earlier given by courts where he is standing trial on corruption charges.
The statement said the second, third and fourth accused were also granted bail in the sum of N100m each, two sureties in which one of them must be a senior civil servant.
It said that the other must be a relative who must have a property in Victoria Island, Ikoyi, or Lekki areas of Lagos.
The accused persons were remanded in prison pending when they would perfect the terms of their bail.
Saidu adjourned the case to June 24 for commencement of trial.