Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke of the Federal High Court in Lagos yesterday remanded an alleged head of a fraud Syndicate, named by the United State’s Federal Investigation Bureau (FBI), in prison.
Justice Aneke ordered that Sarumi, who is an auto dealer, be kept behind bars after he was arraigned before him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over an alleged N207 million fraud.
Sarumi was docked alongside his three companies; 606 Autos Limited, 606 Music Limited and Splash Off Entertainment Limited on a five count-charge of transferring the said sums which were obtained under false pretence, to his principals.
In the charge marked FHC/L/374c/19, defendants were said to have between 2013 and 2018 transferred the sum of N37.6 million to one Omojadesola Shittu Allison.
The EFCC also claimed that the defendants between 2015 and 2018 transferred the sum of N93 million to one Olanrewaju Ibrahim Oriyomi and the sum of N1.5 million to one Abiola Kayode Ayorinde (a.k.a ABK).
The anti-graft agency also alleged that the Sarumi and his companies between 2015 and 2018 transferred the sum of N25 million and N50 million to Bartholomew Oluchukwu Ezeudoko and Amobi Uchenna E.
The offence according to the prosecutor, Anzelem Ozioko is contrary to Section 15 (2)(b) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011(As Amended) and Punishable under Section 15(3) of the same Act.
The defendants, however, pleaded not guilty to the charge.
Following the defendant’s plea, Ozioko, urges the court to remand Sarumi in prison custody, till the determination of the charge against him and his companies.
However, the defence counsel, Muiz Banire (SAN) urged the court to grant his client bail in the most liberal term.
The defence team told the court that the charge had been formerly struck out for lack of diligent prosecution.
Responding, the EFCC counsel, Ozioko, through the agency’s counter affidavit stated that sometimes in 2017, the commission got an intelligence report from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) that the defendant was the head of a syndicate of money launderers and other alleged criminal activities.
Ozioko added that based on the report the defendant was placed under surveillance until the EFCC had sufficient information concerning him, consequent upon which a raid was conducted at number 57 Awolowo Road, Ikoyi Lagos where he was arrested along with his alleged syndicate members.
The prosecutor further stated that upon the defendant’s arrest, he volunteered his extra-judicial statements wherein he tried in vain to explain the numerous suspicious transactions involving him and other suspects who have been under the EFCC investigation.
That during investigation it was revealed that the defendant was working in concert with the likes of RIdwan Momodu Allison (aka Osama), Omojadesola Shittu Allison, Olanrewaju Ibrahim Oriyomi, Abiola Kayode Ayorinde (aka ABK), Batholomew Oluchukwu and Amobi Uchenna .E. whose names featured prominently in the FBI investigation tagged operation wire wire.
The prosecutor states that the defendant also has another criminal matter pending before Justice Chuka Obiozor in another criminal matter number FHC/L/144C/2019 and that one of the members of the alleged criminal scheme has been convicted by Justice Liman in Charge number FHC/L/94/2019 for transaction with the defendant without proper identification of the defendant and other customers.
Ozioko told the court that defendant upon his arrest was initially admitted to administrative bail by the commission and he absconded and was never reached and that was why he was re-arrested and his bail revoked and was further detained.
The lawyer further claimed that his international passport, was collected from him after he was re-arrested so that he will not abscond again.
Ozioko urged the court not to grant the bail application as the defendant is ‘a flight risk’, who will not come for his trial, and may likely interfere with investigation if he is grated bail.
Justice Aneke, after listening to the lawyers adjourned ruling to November 4, for ruling.