Diaspora Info

Information Everywhere

Chairman Zinox Group, Wife, 11 Others Faces Alleged N170M Contract Fraud Trial In Court

Leo Stan Ekeh CEO Zinox Group

Leonard Stanley Ekeh, chairman of the Zinox Group, his wife Chioma, and 11 other people are the targets of a lawsuit brought by Abubakar Malami, attorney general of the federation and minister of justice, for allegedly defrauding a N170.3 million contract.

The 17 filed counts have elements of fraud, forgery, and conspiracy.

Following the adoption of the fiat to prosecute the suspects, human rights attorney Femi Falana (SAN) filed a court document with suit No. FCT/HC/CR/469/2022 before the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory on September 9, 2022, according to information obtained by Newsmen.


Chairman Zinox Group, Wife, 11 Others Faces Alleged N170M Contract Fraud Trial In CourtChairman Zinox Group, Wife, 11 Others Faces Alleged N170M Contract Fraud Trial In CourtChairman Zinox Group, Wife, 11 Others Faces Alleged N170M Contract Fraud Trial In CourtChairman Zinox Group, Wife, 11 Others Faces Alleged N170M Contract Fraud Trial In CourtChairman Zinox Group, Wife, 11 Others Faces Alleged N170M Contract Fraud Trial In Court

The plea for an injunction prohibiting the police from bringing charges against them was flawed, according to the Federal High Court’s decision written by Justice T G Ringim and issued on October 4, 2021.

In an effort to avert an inquiry and prosecution, Mrs. Chioma Ekeh, Chris Eze Ozims, Mrs. Folashade Oyebode, and Charles Adigwe filed an application. Each of them faces a fine of 100,000 Naira.

According to reports, Ekeh used every potential contradiction to divert attention and influence the legal process so he and others might avoid prosecution.

Along with Ekeh and his wife, additional suspects included in the charge sheet for the prosecution include Folashade Oyebode, a director of Technologies Distributions Limited (TD), Chris Eze Ozims, a legal adviser/company secretary for Zinox Group, and Charles Adigwe, a TD accountant.

Others include Princess O. Kama, his accomplice, and two employees of Access Bank PLC, namely Obilo Onuoha and Deborah Ojeabo, as well as the managing director/chief executive officer of both Ad’mas Technologies Limited and Pirovic Engineering Services Limited, Onny Igbokwe.

Technologies Distributions Limited (TD), Ad’mas Technologies Limited, and Pirovic Engineering Services Limited, three businesses charged following police inquiries into the matter, are also named on the charge sheets.

Benjamin Joseph, the managing director of Citadel Oracle Concepts Limited, an Ibadan-based ICT retail company, filed a police report in 2013 to report fraud that was allegedly committed against his business by the suspects.

In 2012, the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) awarded Joseph’s company a N170.3 million contract for the delivery of computer equipment. Without Joseph’s knowledge or consent, the suspects hijacked the deal and carried it out under his company’s name.

The businessman said that the suspects also planned to forge his signature on a false Board of Directors resolution that was used to assist the formation of a phony account with Access Bank PLC with the account number 0059202675 for the payment of the fraud’s benefits.

Joseph claimed that despite the Special Fraud Unit (SFU) of the Nigerian Police Force’s investigations being finished in 2014 and a preliminary case having been made against the accused, the police had chosen not to press charges.

Eight people were accused following initial investigations by the SFU of the Federal Criminal Investigations Department (FCID), but Falana mentioned 11 suspects in the charge sheet that accompanied the application, which our reporter in Abuja saw on Thursday.

Falana, however, stated that his chambers’ investigations revealed that at least 13 people were found to have played various roles in the alleged fraud in 2012 in a letter to the AGF confirming the filing of the case.

In order to avoid prosecution, Joseph had charged the suspects with using a variety of cunning strategies, such as manipulating the legal system, the police, and anti-corruption agencies.

Joseph claimed that on May 8, 2015, he petitioned Solomon Arase, the IGP at the time, to express his company’s anger with the police for not transferring the case file to the DPP for the prosecution of the suspects.

Arase apparently declined to prosecute the accused, though. Instead, he said that Arase suggested that in order to prevent a miscarriage of justice, the civil case he had brought against the suspects should be permitted to complete its entire course before the criminal prosecution.

Joseph petitioned Vice President Yemi Osinbajo after being dissatisfied, and Osinbajo told the EFCC to check into the situation.

The police declined to press charges against the suspects despite the EFCC questioning them and confirming their involvement in the crime.

In a strange turn of events, Joseph was accused by the police on June 16, 2016, prior to Arase’s resignation, with falsely petitioning the IGP against the suspects in a case in which the suspects were employed by the police as prosecution witnesses.

Joseph was formally charged with misleading the former IGP on July 2, 2016, at the Federal Capital Territory High Court, Apo, Abuja, before Justice Peter Kekemeke.

Through his petition of July 3, 2014, about the Board resolution used by the accused to open the phony bank account with Access Bank Plc, the police prosecution counsel, Simon Lough, was charged with one count with the number CR/216/16 of “false petitioning.”

Falana request authority to prosecute suspects.

Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) Falana asked Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami for a fiat or power to prosecute the accused in November 2018.

The businessman has been on trial by the police for more than six years for allegedly filing fake petitions, but the accused have been spared from being charged with the crime.

Abubakar Malami, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, criticized the trial and accepted the Ministry of Justice’s takeover of it, but the police insisted on charging the businessman.

On November 15, 2021, representatives of the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) assumed responsibility for the prosecution of the case based on the Minister’s legal opinion.

The prosecution of the businessman was believed to have ended after police prosecutor Simon Longh, an Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP), turned over the case file to the DPP.

In order to officially conclude the businessman’s trial and begin the prosecution of the suspects, the Federal High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Maitama, presided over by Justice Peter Kekemeke, awaited legal counsel from the AGF’s office.

Falana Gets Fiat To Prosecute Suspects

However, on May 10, 2022, AGF Malami granted Falana’s plea for authority to charge the suspects with the crime in court by acting within the bounds of his authority under Section 174(1) of the Constitution 1999 (as amended).

The AGF has the authority to intervene and end any case under Section 174(1) of the Constitution if, in his opinion, there are grounds to suspect the likelihood of a miscarriage of justice against the accused based on his review during the trial.

In accordance with the AGF’s approval, Falana filed a lawsuit with 17 charges against 13 people at the Federal Capital Territory’s High Court on September 9, 2022. The lawsuit was filed under the case number FCT/HC/CR/469/2022.

According to the charge sheet shown by Newsmen, the suspects conspired to commit the offense in 2012 by fraudulently appropriating a N170.3 million contract given by the FIRS to Citadel Oracle Concept Limited.

The suspects were also accused of conspiring with Access Bank to obtain a false Board resolution in the name of the business to open a fictitious account used to steal the fraud’s proceeds and signing the contract in the name of Citadel Oracle without the knowledge or consent of its owner or managing director.

Falana wrote to the AGF on September 15, 2022, to advise him that charges had been filed against the suspects in court, pending the start of the trial.

Falana urged the Minister to order the police’s pending case No. FCT/HC/CR/216/2016 against Joseph to be dropped.

More than nine years after Benjamin Joseph, the managing director of an Ibadan-based ICT retail company called Citadel Oracle Concept Limited, first reported the incident to the police in 2014 and eight years after a police investigation found the suspects guilty of the crime, formal charges have been filed against the suspects.

Police Defies AGF; Insists On Continuing Prosecution

At the court’s resumed session on Tuesday, there were four adjournments since the DPP took over the investigation into Joseph’s case from the police, so it was anticipated that the matter would finally come to an end and the start of the suspects’ trials would be announced.

However, the court was shocked when Simon Lough, the police prosecution attorney, arrived at the start of the day’s proceedings to announce his arrival and his willingness to continue the prosecution of the businessman, ostensibly in defiance of a current Ministerial approval for the police to hands-off the case and hand it over to the DPP.

Although the presiding Judge, Peter Kekemeke, expressed surprise at Lough’s mission in the absence of a letter from the AGF informing the court of his decision to reverse his earlier decision and return the case to the police, he attributed the confusion to the AGF’s office’s failure to complete the taking over of the case in a timely manner.

The court postponed the hearing until November 3, 2022 so that the defense attorney and Joseph’s attorney, Bob James, would have enough time to prepare a suitable response to Lough’s spontaneous action.

Falana Responds

In response to the police attorney’s persistence on carrying out the case’s prosecution despite a continued Minister of Police order ordering police to withdraw, Falana declared that he was prepared to move forward with the suspects’ prosecution.

“We have filed the charges based on the AGF’s fiat granting our legal firm the right to sue the accused. The fiat may be revoked and the AGF may take full control of the case’s prosecution in its place. But since he hasn’t and we’re not aware that he’s thinking about doing something similar, we’re moving on with the case’s prosecution whenever the court sets a date for it, Falana added.

Leave a Reply

Instagram did not return a 200.
Social media & sharing icons powered by UltimatelySocial