Five officials of a second generation bank were arraigned yesterday before and Akwa Ibom State High Court for allegedly stealing N37 million belonging to depositors.
The accused, Mbong Essien, Akwa Akwa, Precious John, Kenneth Udoetuk and Ubong Udom, were arraigned before Justice Archibong Archibong by the Uyo Zonal Office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The EFCC spokesman, Tony Orilade, said the commission uncovered a criminal syndicate of bankers that specialised in forging signatures of deceased bank customers and stealing from their accounts.
He explained that the bankers also executed fraudulent financial transactions, including unauthorised debits of depositors’ funds.
Essien, Akwa, John, Udoetuk and Udom were arraigned on a 23-count charge bordering on conspiracy, forgery, obtaining by false pretence and criminal conversion of depositors’ funds to the tune of N37,690,000.
The management of the bank, Abak Road branch in Uyo and 72 of the bank customers had in a petition dated December 9, 2019, alerted the commission of suspicious withdrawals from customers’ accounts, including that of a deceased customer.
“Investigation by the EFCC revealed that Mbong used his position as the Head, Operations and Transaction Service and Delivery, established a criminal syndicate that specialised in perpetrating the fraudulent transactions and deductions.
“Further investigations also showed that without the authorisation or knowledge of the management of the bank, the defendants managed a fictitious fixed deposit account with interest accruing to it,” Orilade said.
One of the charges reads: “Mbong Emmanuel Essien, Ubong Godwin Udom and Akwa Ephraim Akwa, being staff of the bank, Abak Road branch, sometime in June 2019, at Uyo, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court did steal the sum of N10,000,000 only, from the bank account of Arit Jeremiah Eshiet, which proceeds you fraudulently converted to your personal use and thereby committed an offence.”
The offence is contrary to Section 392 (1) and punishable under Section 399 of the Criminal Code CAP 38 Vol. II Laws of Akwa Ibom State of Nigeria 1999.
The defendants pleaded “not guilty” to the charges.
In view of their pleas, the EFCC counsel, Nwandu Ukoha, prayed the court for a trial date and for the defendants to be remanded in the custody of the Nigeria Correctional Service.
The matter was thereafter adjourned to June 1, 2, and 3, 2020, for hearing, while the defendants were remanded in the custody of the Nigeria Correctional Service, pending the hearing of their bail application