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N4.5m fraud: EFCC arraigns fake Chevron worker

EFCC Nigeria

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has arraigned Uguru Justus on charges of defrauding a former governorship aspirant of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ebonyi State, Edward Nkwegu, to the tune of N4.5 million.

The anti-graft agency alleged that the defendant, who falsely presented himself as a member of staff of Chevron Nigeria Limited, obtained the money from Mr Nkwegu under the pretext of helping him to secure a contract from the oil firm.

A statement by the commission’s spokesperson, Wilson Uwujaren, on Thursday said the defendant was arraigned before Phoebe Ayua of the Federal High Court, Abakaliki, the Ebonyi State capital, on Wednesday.

According to the statement, the defendant pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Petition, investigations

The anti-graft agency said it began investigations into the alleged fraud after it received a petition from Mr Nkwegu alleging that Mr Justus approached him in May 2019, that he had secured a job at Chevron Nigeria Limited and requested an attestation letter which he obliged him.

According to the EFCC, Mr Nkwegu said after a while, that the defendant approached him again, saying he just returned from a foreign training in the United Kingdom and had resumed work fully at Chevron.

The complainant said shortly after that he found documents in his new office, indicating that Chevron was owing his company, Edon Nigeria Limited, some money.

The anti-graft commission said the defendant allegedly promised the complainant that he would not only ensure that Chevron pays him, he would also help secure another contract for him.

The defendant was said to have requested N4.5 million from the complainant to help him secure the new contract.

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According to the EFCC, the complainant gave the defendant the money but later petitioned the commission after realising that he was not a Chevron staff member, and that there was no Chevron contract in existence.

Charges

One of the charges later preferred against the defendant read, “that you Uguru Ozoemena Justus, sometime between June 2019 and November 2019, in Ebonyi State, within the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court of Nigeria, with intent to defraud, obtained the sum of Four Million, Five Hundred Thousand Naira only (N4, 500,000.00) from Edward Nkwuegu when you presented yourself as a staff of Chevron Nigeria Ltd and capable of assisting him to get contracts and to recover his money from Chevron Nigeria Limited which pretence you knew to be false and you thereby committed an offence Contrary to Section 1(1) (a) and Punishable under Section 1(3) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act, 2006.”

Following the defendant’s not-guilty plea, the prosecuting counsel, Nuradeen Ingawa, urged the court to adjourn for trial.

Bail

In response, the defence counsel, Daniel Uwadiegwu, made an oral bail application on behalf of his client.

The judge subsequently granted bail to the defendant bail in the sum of N1 million with one surety, who must be a responsible citizen and have landed property within the jurisdiction.

The judge also ordered that the surety must deposit two passport photographs with the court, while his residence should be verified by the EFCC.

The court court adjourned till March 23 for trial.

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