Justice Mojisola Dada of the Special Offences Court sitting in Ikeja, Lagos, on Friday, June 9, 2023, convicted and sentenced one Kayode Adegbaju, an engineer, to 11 years imprisonment for N61.1m fraud.
Adegbaju, alongside his company, Warewater Limited, was arraigned by the Lagos Zonal Command of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, sometime in 2020 on a five-count charge bordering on stealing, conspiracy to commit felony and issuance of dud cheques to the tune of N61, 160,000.
Count two reads: “Engineer Kayode Adegbaju, Warewater Limited, sometime in the month of December 2012 at Lagos, within the lkeja Judicial Division, stole the sum of N61,160,000 (Sixty-one Million, One Hundred and Sixty Thousand Naira), property of Harafat Intergrated Service Limited.”
Count three reads: “Engineer Kayode Adegbaju, Warewater Limited, sometime in the month of November 2013 at Lagos, within the lkeja Judicial Division of this Honorable Court, knowingly issued a Unity Bank Cheque of Nigeria Plc No 00000023 dated 30th of November, 2013 for the sum of N10, 000,000.00 (Ten Million Naira) payable to Harafat Intergrated Service Limited, which when presented for payment was dishonoured on the grounds that no sufficient funds were standing to the credit of the account.”
In the course of the trial, the prosecution counsel, Fadeke Giwa, called a witness, an operative of the EFCC, who was involved in the investigation of the alleged fraud, following a petition by the victim of the fraud, one Alhaji Usman Abiodun (now late) and the alter ego of Harafat Intergrated Service Limited, who accused the defendants of defrauding him of the said sum.
The court admitted as exhibits the several documentary evidence presented by the prosecution against the defendants, including the death certificate of the victim, who died in May 2018 at the age of 50.
Investigation showed that the defendant had approached his late victim to finance a construction project awarded to him by a company, and the victim provided him the sum of N89, 160,000.
However, following the execution of the said project awarded to the defendant for which the company that awarded him confirmed paying him fully, the defendant only paid back N28 million to his victim, leaving the balance of the sum of N61,160,000.
Instead of paying up the balance, he issued three cheques to the tune of N10m each in the name of his company, which were returned unpaid for insufficient funds when presented at the bank by his victim.
The victim subsequently petitioned the EFCC.
The defendant, led in evidence by his counsel, M. Mofunaya, took to the dock to defend himself, denying all the allegations.
He had further claimed that the said dud cheques were signed under duress.
Delivering judgement, Justice Dada held that the prosecution proved all the counts against the defendant.
The trial Judge further noted that the defendant, who opened several bank accounts in the name of his company, “had a sinister motive”, and merely used the company as “a vehicle of fraud”.
The Judge also held that the victim “was sent to his early grave.”
Justice Dada, therefore, found him and his company guilty on all counts, and sentenced him to two years on count one bordering on stealing, three years on count two bordering on conspiracy, and two years each on counts three to five bordering on issuance of dud cheques.
The sentences are to run concurrently.
The company was fined N500, 000 on count one, and N500, 000 each on counts three to five.
He was also ordered to pay the outstanding amount of N61, 160,000 within three months of the judgement to the victim or his estate.