Justice Adama Iyami- Lamikanra of the Rivers State High Court sitting in Port Harcourt on Monday, November 18, 2019 convicted and sentenced a former banker of a new generation bank, Chinyere Oti, and a former Accounts Officer of the same bank, Odigboh Okechukwu, to two years imprisonment for defrauding the bank the sum of N25, 018, 467.00k.
The convicts were arraigned on November 19, 2009 by the Port Harcourt Zonal Office of the EFCC on seven- count charges bordering on conspiracy and stealing. The charges were amended on April 25, 2019.
Count four reads, “Odigboh Okechukwu and Chinyere Oti, on or about the 23rd day of October, 2008 at Port Harcourt branch of the bank within the Port Harcourt Judicial Division did fraudulently steal the sum of N20, 431, 342.05 property of the bank by means of the bank Cheque No. 16216303 through an unfunded account in the name of Achufa Investment Limited operated by Odigboh Okechukwu and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 381(1) and punishable under Section 390( 9) of the Criminal Code CAP 37 Vol. II Laws of Rivers State of Nigeria 1999.”
The defendants pleaded not guilty to the charges. Their pleas led to a 10 -year- long trial. The prosecution called three witnesses and tendered 15 exhibits while the defence called three witnesses.
Delivering his judgment on Monday, Justice Iyayi- Lamikanra found the two defendants guilty of the charges and sentenced them to two years imprisonment each or an option of fine of N1,000,000. She also ordered the convicts to pay a sum of N25, 000,000.00 as restitution to the bank.
Trouble started for the two convicts when the bank petitioned the EFCC alleging that its Manager, Rumukwrushi Branch, Port Harcourt, Mrs. Chinyere Oti, fraudulently opened a Current Account for one of its customers and used the account to make fraudulent withdrawals and overdrew it to the tune of N25, 018, 467. Investigations showed that the alleged customer of the bank never opened an account with the bank, rather, Odigboh Okechukwu, an Account Officer with the bank used the customer’s photograph to open the account without the customer’s knowledge or consent. It was through the account the two convicts defrauded the bank.