Court acquits man, wife for allegedly operating ‘Wonder Bank’
A Federal High Court in Enugu, presided by Justice R. O. Dugbo-Oghoghorie, has discharged and acquitted one Patrick Okike and his wife, Mrs. Rosemary Okike, of allegation of operating a Wonder Bank.
Dugbo-Oghoghorie, in a 143-page judgment, held that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) failed woefully to prove its case against the couple and their firm, Let’s Partner With You.
The judge said that in criminal proceedings, the burden lay on the prosecution to prove its case beyond all reasonable doubt as against every shadow of doubt.
The judge, therefore, resolved all the issues preferred by the EFCC in favour of the defendants.
The couple and their firm were arraigned on November 15, 2016 on a four-count charge bordering on alleged operation of banking business without a valid licence.
The offence was said to be contrary to Section 2 (1) and 49 (1) of the Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act, CAP B3, Laws of the Federation, 2004 and punishable under Section 2 (2) of the same Act.
They were also accused of inviting the public through advertisement to deposit money with them without authorisation contrary to Sect. 44(1) of the Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act, CAP B3, Laws of the Federation, 2004.
Meanwhile, the court held that none of the witnesses presented by the prosecution was able to establish that the defendants were either operating a banking business or invited the public to deposit money.
“The law provides that for a business to constitute banking business by receiving deposits, the cash deposits must have been received on current account, savings account or other similar account.
“As regards counts one and two of the charge, the business of the defendants is not banking business as provided for under the laws upon which they are charged.
“On counts three and four, the prosecution counsel has failed to provide cogent and compelling evidence for this court to hold that the defendants made advertisements for the public to deposit cash on current account, savings account or other similar account,” Dugbo-Oghoghorie said.
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