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  • Crime
  • Updated: June 20, 2024

Ex-Punch staff remanded over alleged N950 million fraud

Ex-Punch staff remanded over alleged N950 million fraud

An Ikeja Special Offences Court ordered the remand of former Punch Newspaper Ltd staff, Olusegun Ogunbanjo, in the Kirikiri correctional facility on Wednesday over an alleged N950 million fraud.

Presiding judge, Justice Ismail Ijelu, remanded Ogunbanjo pending his arraignment on the fraud charges.

The court's decision followed an ex parte application filed by the Director of Public Prosecution, DPP, Dr. Babajide Martins, on June 19, supported by a 14-paragraph affidavit.

Dr. Martins stated that the court had issued an arrest warrant for Ogunbanjo on May 28, 2024, after he failed to appear in court to address the criminal charges against him.

He noted that the defense counsel, Chijioke Jiakponna, had assured the court that the defendant would appear for arraignment, but Ogunbanjo did not, leading to the issuance of the arrest warrant.

Dr. Martins added that, in accordance with the law, they submitted a written address and an affidavit to support the ex parte application.

“The application is seeking an order to remand the defendant pending the arraignment.

“They vied that he failed to appear in court to answer the criminal charge against him. The counsel on record has informed the court to bring the defendant but failed to do so.

“It was the Department of State Security (DSS) that arrested him on June 14. The application is harmless and is in tandem with the law.

“The court should take judicial notice that the criminal charge has been pending since November 2023. On March 28, the court issued a warrant of arrest when he failed to appear in court.”

It would be recalled that aside Ogunbanjo, other defendants in the suit marked ID/21559C/2023 are Olawunmi Ogunbanjo, Vaneloo International Limited, Valeco Global Ventures, Bagco Garba, Taofeek Ogunbanjo, Ifeanyi Odogwu, Bound Media Limited and Godwin Benson.

Ogunbanjo was first arraigned on March 8, 2023 on three counts bordering on obtaining money by pretence, forgery and stealing before the Magistrate’s Court.

The police alleged that the defendant committed the offence between January 2017 and December 2022, in the Ikorodu area of Lagos state.

The defendant was alleged to have obtained N450m from one Olusola lkuyajesin and N500m from one Durodola Balogun under the pretences of using the money to buy stationeries.

He was also accused of forging the organisation’s local purchase orders to carry out the acts.

The prosecution said the offences contravened sections 287, 314, and 365 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, Nigeria, 2015.

However, the 45-year-old pleaded not guilty to the charges and was granted bail in the sum of N10m with two responsible sureties in like sum.

Since November, when the case was filed at the High Court, he failed to appear in court.

However, while ruling on the ex-parte application on Wednesday, Ijelu said he had carefully considered the prosecution prayers and his submission.

“The ACJL 2021 states that where the defendant is arrested after bench warrant has been issued, the defendant must be brought to court for a remand.

“It is on record that this court issued a warrant of arrest against the defendant on March 28. It is hereby ordered that the first defendant be remanded in Kirikiri Correctional Centre till June 20 for his arraignment.”

He subsequently adjourned the case to June 20 for arraignment.

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