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Court convicts NNPC staff for N1.8m fraud

By Matthew Ogune (Abuja) and Anietie Akpan (Calabar)
17 October 2020   |   4:15 am
Justice Darius Khobo of the Kaduna State High Court on Thursday convicted and sentenced one Nuhu Aliyu for fraud.

• EFCC Arraigns Ponzi Scheme Operator
Justice Darius Khobo of the Kaduna State High Court on Thursday convicted and sentenced one Nuhu Aliyu for fraud.

This is as the Uyo Zonal Office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), yesterday, arraigned an alleged notorious ponzi scheme operator, Umanah Umanah, on a two-count charge bordering on forgery, obtaining by false pretense, fraud and issuance of dud cheque.

Aliyu, a staff of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, (NNPC)/Nigerian Pipeline and Storage Company Ltd (NPSC) and Chairman, Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), PPMC Kaduna Depot Branch, defrauded the NNPC to the tune of N1, 834,900.00 in October 2017.

He was prosecuted by the Kaduna Zonal Office of the EFCC on an amended one-count charge of criminal breach of trust and abuse of office to which he pleaded guilty.

Following his guilty plea, prosecution counsel, Y. J. Matiyak, tendered 11 documents that were admitted as exhibits and urged the court to convict and sentence him accordingly.

He was convicted and sentenced by the judge to pay the sum of N100, 000 to the Federal Government or risk a 10-year jail term.

Justice Khobo further pronounced that the EFCC should recover the proceeds of the crime from the convict and transfer it in favour of the PPMC.

The convict pulled off the fraud by summoning an emergency meeting of a few NUPENG executives, but deliberately left out some members with the sole aim of having the liberty to process some payments to himself.

Although the meeting did not hold, he went ahead to facilitate the payments to himself by splitting the payments into two; one to himself to the tune of N934, 900.00 and the other to Muktar Aliyu, NUPENG’s secretary in the state, to the tune of N900, 000.00.

It was further discovered that to facilitate the payments, the convict forged the signatures of some other NUPENG officials with the help of one Ibrahim Yakubu Shekarau.

Aliyu, however, routed back the sum to the convict, thereby making him the sole beneficiary of the illicit fund.

Umanah was arraigned before Justice Agatha Okeke of the Federal High Court sitting in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.

A statement by the spokesperson of the EFCC in Uyo, Theresa Nwosu, said: “The accused, a 62-year old serial fraudster, who is said to specialise in luring people to invest in his company, ‘No Burn Global Limited’, with a false assurance of a bogus 50 per cent weekly interest, was arrested by operatives of the Commission on July 1, 2020, at a hotel located in Osongoma area of Uyo.”

Nwosu said his arrest followed a petition by one of his victims, who alleged that Umanah swindled him of over N2.9 million and subsequently issued him a cheque for N500, 000.00, which returned unpaid as the account was not funded to cover the sum.

According to Nwosu, the petitioner made efforts to recover his invested capital but to no avail as Umanah quickly went into hiding and stopped taking his calls.

She said that investigations conducted by the Commission revealed that the accused runs a notorious gang of advanced fee fraud syndicates operating in several states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, adding that the zone has received over 70 petitions against the accused.

Umanah pleaded not guilty to the charges preferred against him.

In view of his plea, Counsel to the EFCC, Adebayo Soares, prayed the court to remand the accused in the custody of the Nigeria Correctional Service, Uyo, and fix a date for trial, which the judge obliged.

The matter was thereafter adjourned to November 9, 2020, for hearing.