A Federal High Court in Ikoyi, Lagos has been told how Ismaila Yousouf Atumeyi, the New Nigeria People Party, NNPP Assembly Candidate in Kogi State collided with others to defraud bank customers.
He was alleged to have benefited from the fraudulent withdrawal of N681m.
At the continuation of the trial on Tuesday, the first prosecution witness, Olusegun Falola told Justice Tijani Ringim of the Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos how the sum of N681m (Six Hundred and Eighty-one Million Naira) was paid into Atumeyi’s business account.
Atumeyi is standing trial alongside Ngene Joshua Dominic and Abdulmalik Salau, a former employee of Union Bank Plc, on an 18-count charge bordering on alleged cybercrime and money laundering to the tune of N1.4 billiom.
Led in evidence by the prosecution counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, SAN, Falola, an Internal Auditor and Team Lead, General Investigations, Union Bank Plc, told the court that “sometime in October 2022, during the periodic internal review of accounts of customers it was observed that some accounts that were placed on No-debit were debited.
According to him, the methodology employed in debiting the said accounts was different from the accounts are being debited in the normal banking activity.
He stated further that, during the review, it was observed that beyond the few accounts that were referred for investigation, there were other numerous accounts that were being debited.
He stated that the debits on these accounts were traced to two beneficiaries, Atus Homes Limited account and Fav Oil and Gas Limited.
He told the judge that these two accounts received the sum of N681m and N1.38 billion, respectively from the account of 429 customers.”
Stating further investigations revealed that Atumeyi is the signatory to the Atus Homes Limited account, while the signatories to Fav Oil and Gas are Shuaibu Yusuf and Nurudeen.
According to him, all illicit debits on the customers’ accounts were done via internet banking on one of the bank’s platforms known as Union 360 where over 600m had been withdrawn from the account of Atus Homes Limited and over N800m withdrawn from Fav Oil and Gas.
The witness revealed that that they were able to make those fraudulent transfers because the bank system was fraudulently manipulated.
According to him, it was realised that only a person with privileged information on the bank’s information technology could have carried out such illicit transactions and the matter was reported to the EFCC for further investigation.
The Prosecuting lead Counsel Rotimi Oyedepo sought to tender the petition written to the EFCC, the correspondences between EFCC and the bank as well as the defendants’ statements of account that had been identified by the PW1.
But in a swift reaction counsel to the third defendant, Babatunde Ogunwo, objected to the admissibility of the attached statement of account on the grounds that the prosecution had not sufficiently complied with Section 84 (2) 2(4) of the Evidence Act.
Responding, Oyedepo said that the argument of the defence counsel was misconceived and also missed its target.
In a short ruling, Justice Ringim overruled the objection of the defence and admitted the evidence in exhibit.
Justice Ringim also granted the second defendant, Dominic, bail on the same terms of the 3rd defendant, as granted on January 6, 2023.
The matter was adjourned to February 2, 2023 for continuation of trial.