Home News N855m fraud: Appeal Court affirms 5-year conviction of 2 bankers

N855m fraud: Appeal Court affirms 5-year conviction of 2 bankers

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The Lagos Division of the Court of Appeal has upheld the judgment of a Lagos State High Court, which sentenced two officials of Keystone Bank, Anayo Nwosu and Olajide Oshodi, to five years imprisonment over an N855 million fraud.

The Appeal Court, in a unanimous judgment delivered by Justice Folasade Ojo, dismissed the separate appeals by Nwosu and Oshodi against their conviction for lacking in merit.

Two other members of the panel Justices Olukayode Bada and Paul Bassi agreed with the lead judgment.

The appellate court resolved the three issues formulated for determination in favour of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Justice Kudirat Jose of the lower court had, on 9 December 2019, sentenced Nwosu and Oshodi to five years imprisonment on an amended 15-count charge of conspiracy and obtaining money by false pretence brought against them by the EFCC.

The lower court had sentenced them to five years imprisonment, each on counts 1, 3, 4, 7, 9, 10 and 13 of stealing.

Justice Jose also convicted an Indian businessman, Ashok Israni, his company NULEC Industries Limited and Keystone Bank Limited, in her judgment.

The company and the bank were ordered to pay a fine of N20 million to the Federal Government on counts one, 10 and 13.

Dissatisfied with the lower court’s verdict, the duo approached the upper court, arguing that their right to a fair hearing was breached because the further amended charge was introduced after the close of evidence.

They also argued that the lower court went outside its jurisdiction by exceeding the maximum punishment prescribed by Section 390 of the Lagos State Criminal Code Law, Cap. 17, Vol. 2, Laws
of Lagos State under which they were charged.

The EFCC, through its lawyer, argued that appellants did not challenge the further amended charge during the trial and that the Criminal Code Law of Lagos State permits the court to sentence a convict up to five years imprisonment if the thing stolen was worth N1,000.

In her Judgment, Justice Ojo held that the tríal court complied with the procedure laid down by law to be followed when a charge is amended and that there was no merit in the appellants’ argument that the amendment to the charge breached their right to a fair hearing.

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