Falana Gets Backing Over Request to Prosecute Alleged N170m Zinox Fraud

Anti-graft body, Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership (CACOL) has thrown its weight behind the request of human rights activist and legal luminary, Femi Falana for prosecutorial powers against Company Seceretary/Legal Adviser, Zinox Group and Technology Distributions Limited (TD), Chris Ozims and six others for fraud.

Falana had written the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami for the prosecutorial powers after the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) arraigned two suspects for their roles in the N170.3million contract frauds against a computer retail firm, Citadel Oracle Concept Limited, Lagos.

It will be recalled that Managing Director of Citadel Oracle Concept Limited, Benjamin Joseph had written a petition to the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo accusing seven suspects in the diversion of contract awarded by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) to the company in 2012.

Unfortunately, same petition was used in his arraignment before a Federal Capita Territory High Court, Apo, Abuja in 2016 on a one count charge of false petitioning by the then Inspector General of Police (IGP), Solomon Arase, with intention of misleading him over a case of identity theft, impersonation and criminal conversion of contracts.

Meanwhile, the facts available to CACOL, according to its Executive Chairman, Debo Adeniran, shows that Benjamin Joseph had petitioned the vice president, Yemi Osinbajo, on how some people had impersonated Citadel Oracle by cloning its official headed paper and signatures to issue an acceptance letter for the contract.

To facilitate payment for the contract, Joseph said the suspects approached officials of the Awolowo Road, Ikoyi branch of Access Bank (Messrs. Onuoha and Ijeabu) who released to them the original copies of documents used by Citadel Oracle to open its corporate account.

In order to open the controversial account, Joseph said a fake Board resolution purportedly issued by Citadel Oracle management was procured, with Messrs. Ozims, Oyebode and Igbokwe conferred the power of attorney to act as “directors” of the company and authorized signatories to the account.

The documents showed about N115.268 million were moved from the fictitious account to TD’s account at Guaranty Trust Bank (GTB).

In August 2013, after the fraud was uncovered, Joseph said he petitioned the police two months later, to accuse the suspects of conspiring to swindle his company of N170.3 million.

Despite several reminders, including the one dated May 8, 2015 to the then IGP, Solomon Arase, Joseph said the police remained adamant, refusing to take action.

Another N43.685 million was transferred from Ad’mas Digital Technology account operated by Igbokwe at Access Bank to TD’s account at GTB.

Aside the N38.057 million transfer to Ad’mas Digital Technology’s account No. 1010699686 at Zenith Bank, the documents also showed Ekeh also approved another N115.268 million to be wired from the fictitious account to TD’s at GTB, and another N38.057 million to Ad’mas’ account at Zenith Bank.

Obviously sensing EFCC’s exclusion of Ozims and four other suspects from prosecution might portend a miscarriage of justice, Falana decided to intervene.

Falana was quoted to have said that; “Believing the moral fabric of the society and indeed the rule of law is gravely undermined if persons are recommended for prosecution and almost five years later nothing is done, we have decided to seek your intervention. No one should be seen in our society to be above the law.”

He revealed how in 2012, Joseph had reported to the Special Fraud Unit (SFU), Lagos about his suspicion that a contract awarded to his company was diverted by members of a fraud syndicate who opened an account in his company’s name using forged documents.

Although on completion of investigation the police sent a duplicate of the case file to the Lagos office of the Directorate for Public Prosecution (DPP), Falana said after studying the file, a prima facie case of fraud and forgery was established and prosecution recommended for all the suspects.

Even where the accused persons expressed dissatisfaction with the legal advice and directly petitioned the DPP, a fresh review of the case file still confirmed there was sufficient ground to prosecute the suspects.

Debo Adeniran, CACOL’s Executive Chairman added that the refusal of the Police or relevant anti-graft agency to prosecute the seven indicted suspects in this scam, more than four years since prosecution of the suspects was ordered remains unacceptable to people like Femi Falana SAN.

CACOL urged that the request of this anti-corruption lawyer to the effect he be given prosecutorial power over the matter be seriously considered, as this would not only save government undue costs, but ensure that the wheel of justice is properly served.

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