The Federal High Court in Lagos Monday ordered a branch head of Providus Bank Plc, Mariam Isoje, to appear before the court to take her plea on an alleged N144million fraud.
Justice Yelim Bogoro made the order following a complaint by prosecution counsel Mr. Henry Obiaze that Isoje had failed to appear for arraignment since the police filed charge against her.
Isoje and a Bureau De Change (BDC) Operator, Ibrahim Butali Abdulmumin, are defendants in a four-count charge of alleged conspiracy, obtaining by false pretence, concealing proceeds of unlawful activities and fraud of N144 million.
The charge, numbered FHC/L/221c/2022, was filed by the Police Special Fraud Unit (PSFU), Ikoyi, Lagos.
It alleged that the defendants conspired and fraudulently obtained the sum of N144m from their victims, under the pretext of exchanging the money to $250,000.
Isoje, in particular, was accused of concealing the proceeds of unlawful activities in the sum of N60.48million, derived directly from BDC Operator, Ibrahim.
The prosecutor said the offences contravened sections 18 (2)(b) and 20 (a)(b)of the Money (Prohibition) Act, 2022 and sections 8 (a) and 1(1) (3) of the Advance Fee Fraud and other Fraud Related Offences Act, 2006
Obiaze said while the BDC Operator had taken his plea, Isoje is yet to take hers, having never appeared in court.
At the resumed hearing of the charge on Monday, Obiaze prayed the court to issue a bench warrant against her.
But Isoje’s counsel, Onyekachi Asogwa, opposed the prosecutor, saying his client had filed an application challenging the competence of the charge.
Obiaze countered Asogwa, arguing that under the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) 2015, a defendant to a criminal charge must take his plea before any application can be heard.
Ruling on the arguments, Justice Bogoro held: “The second defendant should submit herself to the jurisdiction of this court and take her plea on the charges against her.
“If she fails, the court will issue a bench warrant against her.”
The judge adjourned till February 16, 2023, for the banker’s arraignment.