former Finbank MD, Nwosu and three more
Judge Latifa A. Okunnu of the Lagos High Court, hearing in Ikeja on Tuesday 5 January 2021, sentenced Okei Nwosa, the former CEO of Finbank Plc, to three years in prison for over $ 10 billion in fraud.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, indicted Nwosa, along with Daio Famuroti, Agnes Ebubedike and Danjum Ocholi, on a 26-count amended charge bordering on theft and illegal conversion in the amount of 10.934.704.402.
The defendants, who committed fraud when they were bank administrators, pleaded not guilty to the charges brought against them, leading to their full trial.
During the trial, Attorney Rotimi Jacobs, San Francisco, called witnesses and also produced several documents that were accepted as evidence against the defendants.
In delivering his decision, the judge found the defendants guilty and sentenced the first and second defendants, Nwosa and Famorothi, to three years in prison each.
The judge also sentenced the third defendant, Ocholi, to 12 months in prison and the fourth defendant, Ebubedike, to six months of community service.
The case was dropped because the defendants challenged the jurisdiction of the court to the Supreme Court. Although the court retained its jurisdiction over the accused, Nwosu applied to the Lagos Division of the Court of Appeal, which in November 2013 hit charge against the banker.
The Court of Appeal ruled that the Lagos High Court is not empowered to hear the charges as they come from capital market transactions that must be heard by the Federal High Court.
Following the decision of the Court of Appeal, Daio Famoroti, Danjuma Ocholi and Agnes Ebubedike petitioned the Lagos High Court to dismiss the charges in their favor.
But Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, legal counsel for the EFCC, asked the court to postpone the case indefinitely pending a decision on his appeal to the Supreme Court.
Judge Okunnu accepted Jacobs’ prayers and updated the sine die issue for the Supreme Court to rule on the issue.
The Supreme Court’s ruling upheld the EFCC’s appeal. In a unanimous decision, a panel of seven high court judges accused the Court of Appeal that the EFCC’s decision to indict Nwos and other directors for theft in the Lagos High Court while holding a money laundering charge against them would pose a double risk.
The Supreme Court ordered Nwosa and the other defendants to appear before the Lagos High Court.