NewsEnugu Lawyer Doked Over N91m Land Fraud, Pleads Not Guilty

Enugu Lawyer Doked Over N91m Land Fraud, Pleads Not Guilty

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February 02, (THEWILL) – A legal practitioner based in Enugu State, Barrister Mike Ikegbunam, has been docked by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on alleged money laundering charges.

The anti-graft agency, in a statement on Friday, said Barrister Ikegbunam was brought before Justice Mohammed Garba Umar of the Federal High Court in Independence Layout, Enugu State, on Wednesday, January 31, 2024, on a seven-count charge bordering on money laundering and obtaining ₦91 million by false pretence.

One of the counts read: “That you, Mike Ikegbunam, on 16th August 2022, in Umuagu Ozu Village, Anambra State, within the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court of Nigeria with intent to defraud, induced the Senior Staff Association of Universities, Teaching Hospitals, Research Institutes and Associated Institutions of Nigeria to deliver to you the sum of ₦25,000,000.00 (Twenty-Five Million Naira) under the pretence that you are capable of acquiring some portions of land for their members at Umuagu Ndiukwuanu Town in Orumba North Local Government Area of Anambra State, which pretence you knew to be false, thereby committing an offence contrary to Section 1 (1) (a) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act, 2006 and punishable under Section 1 (3) of the same Act.”

He pleaded “not guilty” when the charges were read to him.

In view of his plea, Counsel to the EFCC, Nuradeen Shehu Ingawa, prayed the court for a trial date and for the defendant to be remanded at the Correctional Centre.

The defence counsel, A. G. Anyigo, prayed the court to admit his client to bail, adding that “the defendant is a very responsible personality in society.”

Responding, Ingawa vehemently opposed the bail application based on the gravity of the offence and urged the court to dismiss the bail application.

In his ruling, Justice Umar granted the defendant bail on self-recognisance as a legal practitioner on the following conditions:

“That the defendant must deposit his Call to Bar Certificate with the court and make available one surety, who must be his cousin.

“The defendant was remanded in EFCC custody pending the fulfilment of the bail conditions.”

The judge adjourned the matter to March 21, 2024, for trial.

Ikegbunam was arrested on July 12, 2023, after the Senior Staff Association of Universities, Teaching Hospitals, Research Institutes, and Associated Institutions (SSAUTHRIAI), Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital, Nnewi Branch, alleged that its members paid N91 million to him for the purchase of 130 plots of land at Umuagu, Ozu Ndiukwuanu Town, in Orumba North Local Government Area of Anambra State.

Investigations showed that the defendant, who has refunded N10 million to the association, used N16.5 million suspected to be part of the money to acquire three plots of land for himself at Dubai Estate, Phase 2 in Awka, Anambra State capital.

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