Dr John Abebe, the younger brother of a former First Lady, Stella Obasanjo, was on Monday arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission before the Lagos State Special Offences Court in Ikeja for alleged fraud.
Abebe was arraigned alongside a former Head of Firstbank Plc, United Kingdom Correspondent Office, Kamoru Alade Oladimeji, before Justice Olubunmi Abike-Fadipe on six counts of conspiracy, stealing, and obtaining money under pretence.
Part of the counts against the defendants read: “That you, Dr John Abebe and Kamoru Alade Oladimeji, on or about the 4th day of June 2013 in Lagos within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court conspired amongst yourselves to commit felony to wit; stealing the sum of N120 million worth of property of Arsenal Technologies Limited.
“That you, Dr John Abebe and Kamoru Alade Oladimeji, on or about the 4th day of June 2013, in Lagos within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court conspired amongst yourselves to commit felony to wit; obtaining by false pretence the sum of N120 million property of Arsenal Technologies Limited under the pretence that your property lying being and situate at 9, Magbon Close, Ikoyi-Lagos State, which you pledged as the security to the Arsenal Technologies Limited was unencumbered, which representation you knew to be false.
“That you Dr John Abebe and Inducon Nigeria Limited, on or about the 4th day of June 2013, in Lagos within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, with intent to defraud and to gain for yourself the sum of $1,000,000.00 or its Naira equivalent from Arsenal Technologies Limited by false pretence to procure the execution of valuable security to wit; a deed of assignment between Inducon Nigeria Limited and Arsenal Technologies Limited, wherein you falsely claimed that the property lying being and situate at No. 9, Magbon Close, Ikoyi-Lagos was unencumbered and that you have full powers to assign and transfer the said property to the assignor; Arsenal Technologies Limited.”
According to EFCC, the offences committed were contrary to Sections 280(1), (12), 8 (7), 285(1) and 278(1)(b) of the Criminal Laws of Lagos State, 2011.
The defendants, however, pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Following their plea, the prosecutor, Sulaimon urged the court to fix a trial date and to remand the defendants in the custody of the Nigerian Correctional Services until the hearing and determination of the case.
However, the defence counsel, Anthony Popo and Sam Etaifo, urged the court to grant their clients bail in the most liberal terms.
While moving the bail application on behalf of Abebe, Popo told the judge that the matter before her was a commercial transaction between the first defendant and the nominal complainant, which he waa ready to settle out of court.
He also claimed that Abebe had paid back the sums of $100,000 and N30 million to the complainant and had also deposited the title document of 26 acres of land and the documents of a property in London to show his seriousness to resolve the matter.
The lawyer further submitted that the defendant would not jump bail since he never violated the terms of the administrative bail granted to him by the EFCC.
The prosecutor did not oppose the application but urged the court to impose stringent terms that would ensure the defendant’s appearance in court for their trial.
In her ruling, Justice Abike-Fadipe granted the first defendant bail in the sum of N20 million with one surety in like sum.
She directed that the surety must be a resident of Lagos and must deposit the title document of a landed property whose value must not be less than N20m.
The judge also admitted the second defendant to bail in the sum of N10m with one surety in like sum, who must be a resident of the state.
Justice Abike-Fadipe further ordered that the defendant shall continue to enjoy the administrative bail earlier granted to them by the EFCC but if they failed after seven days to perfect the terms of the bail she granted them, they shall be arrested and remanded in prison.
She adjourned the case to December 6 for commencement of trial.