Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) yesterday arraigned a businessman, Olalekan Abdul, and a journalist, for an alleged N350 million fraud.

The duo were charged alongside a man, Morakinyo Bolanle (now at large), before Justice Mojisola Dada of an Ikeja Special Offences Court, Lagos.

The defendants were arraigned on a 15-amended-count charge bothering on forgery, falsification of books and account, conspiracy and obtaining money by false pretence.

The offences contravene Sections 411, 365, 366 and 335 (2) of the Criminal Laws of Lagos State of Nigeria, 2015 and also  Section 1(1),(2) of the Advance Fee Fraud and other related offences Act No.14 of 2006.

The EFCC prosecutor, Muhammad Idris, said the defendants used a false document entitled: “Board Resolution of Cleanserve Integrated Energy Solution Limited” dated September 27, 2010 to open an account with Keystone Bank PLC formerly known as Bank PHB as genuine

The EFCC lawyer alleged that the defendants, with intent to defraud, obtained credit facility for Cleanserve Integrated Energy Solution in the sum of N350,000,000 through false pretence from Wema Bank by falsely representing to them that the “Board Resolution of Cleanserve Integrated Energy Solution” dated December 14, 2010 is genuine which representation they knew to be false.

The defendants, however, pleaded not guilty to the charge preferred against them by the commission.

In view of the defendants’ not guilty plea, the prosecutor asked the court to remand them in prison custody.

However, counsel to Abdul, Mr. Adeyinka Olumide-Fusika (SAN), urged the court to grant bail to his client (the 1st defendant).

He said: “The first defendant (Abdul) has been on administrative bail of the EFCC since 2018 and anytime he was invited to their office he never failed to honour their invitation.

“The interest, at this stage, is to ensure that the defendant comes for trial.

“We plead that he drops his international passport and if we can have a trial date for Friday, we will bring him to court.”

Also Mr. Muiz Banire (SAN), counsel to the journalist, in his submission, asked the court to grant the former Executive Director of Punch Newspaper bail because of the congestion evident at the correctional facilities.

He said: “The maximum capacity of the prison is 800, but as at today it (houses) 3,000.”