Monday, May 18, 2015

EFCC RE-ARRAIGNS TIMIPRE SYLVA FOR 2.45BN FRAUD

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on
Monday re-arraigned a former governor of Bayelsa
State, Mr. Timipre Sylva, before a Federal High
Court in Abuja for fraud involving about N2.45bn.

The accused allegedly committed the offence
between October 2009 and February 2010 as
governor of Bayelsa State.



He pleaded not guilty to all the six counts when he
was re-arraigned before Justice Evoh Chukwu on
Monday.

The former governor also has similar charges
pending against him before Justice Ahmed
Mohammed of the Federal High Court in Abuja.
Sylva had earlier pleaded not guilty to the Monday’s
six counts when he was first arraigned for the
offences before Justice Adamu Bello (retd) on June
5, 2012

The matter had to start de novo (afresh) following
the retirement of Justice Bello, a development
which prompted Sylva’s re-arraignment before
Justice Chukwu on Monday.

The prosecuting counsel, Mr. Festus Keyamo, who
signed the charges, accused Sylva of offences,
including conversion of various sums of money
belonging to the state with the aim of concealing
their illicit origins.

He was also accused of inducing Union Bank Plc to
fraudulently grant him a N2bn overdraft facility
under the pretext of using the money to augment
workers’ salary.

He allegedly committed the offences in conspiracy
with other unnamed persons said to be at large.

In the first count, the EFCC alleged that between
October 2009 and February 2010, the former
governor conspired with other unnamed persons to
convert “property and resources amounting to
N2bn belonging to Bayelsa State Government
derived from an illegal act, with the aim of
concealing the illicit origin of the said amount.”

In the second count, the EFCC alleged that on
January 22, 2010, Sylva converted the sum of
N380m, property of Bayelsa State Government,
“through the account of one Habibu Sani Maigidia, a
Bureau De Change Operator with Account No.
221433478108, in Fin Bank Plc, which sum you
knew represented the proceeds of an illegal act
with the aim of concealing the nature of the
proceeds of the said illegal act.”
Count 3 accused the former governor of converting
N50m belonging to his state “through the account of
one Enson Benmer Limited with Account No.
6152030001946, in First Bank Plc, which sum you
knew represented the proceeds of an illegal act
with the aim of concealing the nature of the
proceeds of the said illegal act.”
Count 4 alleges that the accused, on January 5,
2010, converted the sum of N20m belonging to
Bayelsa State, “through the account of one John
Daukoru with Account No. 04800250000418, in
United Bank of Africa Plc, which sum you knew
represented the proceeds of an illegal act with the
aim of concealing the nature of the proceeds of the
said illegal act.”

EFCC said the offence in Count 1 is contrary to
provisions of Section 17(a) of the Money
Laundering (Prohibition Act), 2004 and the offences
in Counts 2 to 4 are said to be contrary to and
punishable under Section 14(1) of the same Act.

In counts 5 and 6, the former governor was
accused of conspiring with others to induce Union
Bank Plc and actually inducing the bank “with the
intent to defraud, to grant an overdraft facility of the
sum of N2bn under the false pretence of using the
amount to augment salaries of the Bayelsa State
Government workers.”

The conspiracy offence in count 5 is said to be
contrary to provisions of section 8(a) of the
Advanced Fee Fraud and other Fraud Related
Offences Act 2004 and punishable under section
1(3) of the same Act.

After the arraignment on Monday, Justice Chukwu
granted bail to Sylva in the conditions and terms
previously granted by the former trial judge.

The oral bail application by Sylva’s lawyer, Israel
Olorundare (SAN), was not opposed by the
prosecuting counsel from Keyamo’s law firm, Mr.
John Ainetor.
Ainetor had only urged the court to grant the bail if
it was willing to do so in terms that would secure
the availability of the accused person in court.
The court fixed May 25 for commencement of trial.
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