Justice Sodetan Ogunsanya of the Ikeja High Court sitting in Lagos, on Monday, convicted a lawyer, Stella Achebe and her company, Infinite Favour Nigeria Limited for N10m fraud.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission arraigned Stella Achebe and her company for the offence bordering on the issuance of dud cheques, contrary to Section 1(1)(b) of the Dishonoured Cheques (Offences) Act 2004, and obtaining credit by fraud contrary to Section 313(1)(a) of the Criminal Law of Lagos State 2011.
The defendant was arraigned on an amended four-count dated February 27, 2015.
The charges read in part, “Stella Achebe and Infinite Favour Nigeria Limited sometimes in April 2013 at Lagos, within the Ikeja Judicial Division knowingly issued a Diamond Bank cheque dated 30th April 2013 for the sum of N10 million only payable to Leinadibanie Nigeria Limited through its Director Daniel Ebinoh, which when presented for payment within three months of issuance was dishonoured on the grounds that no funds or insufficient funds were standing to your credit in the account at the bank on which the cheque was drawn.”
The defendant pleaded not guilty to all charges.
During the court trial, the prosecuting counsel, G.C Akaogu, called four witnesses and tendered several documentary evidence to prove the case against the convict.
The prosecution through the witnesses revealed that the defendant had only N3,129.77 in her account as of the time she issued the cheques for the said amount.
Akaogu also adduced evidence to prove that the defendant merely obtained the said money by false pretence as she was not into oil and gas business as she claimed.
The defendant, who said she was a lawyer called to the Nigeria Bar in 2002, also took to the dock to defend herself, claiming that she was into oil and gas business.
Achebe claimed that the money obtained from her victim who petitioned the EFCC was for the supply of AGO from MRS.
However, the defendant stopped coming to court and continued to be absent in court proceedings.
The counsels adopted their written addresses on February 27, 2019, and the court revoked the bail of the defendant and declared her wanted following the application filed by the prosecution. The court issued a bench warrant for her arrest, and this prompted the adjournment of judgement in the case.
During Monday’s proceeding, defence counsel, Mr. O.S. Ahmed said that the defendant could still not be located.
Delivering judgement, Justice Ogunsanya said it was clear that the defendant has jumped bail and all efforts by her counsel to locate her have proved abortive.
Ogunsanya noted that the delay in the judgement was due to the deliberate and wilful refusal of the defendant to show face in court.
She held that the prosecution through its witnesses and documents tendered credible and convincing evidence beyond every reasonable doubt of all the charges filed against the defendant, and so has found the convict and her company guilty as charged.
Justice Ogunsanya adjourned sentencing of the matter until when the defendant is produced in court.