Hillary Ogbobe, 45, and his wife, Ijeoma, were on Thursday arraigned at an Ikeja Special Offences Court for allegedly defrauding one Christopher Ezugwu, their neighbour of N12.4 million.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Justice Mojisola Dada remanded the couple, who are residents of House 3, O Close, First Ave., Festac Town, Lagos after they plead not guilty to two-counts of conspiracy to obtain money by false pretence and obtaining money by false pretence.
“The defendants are to be remanded in prison custody till July 11, pending the hearing of their bail application,” Dada said.
Following the arraignment of the couple, Ezugwu, their neighbour and complainant testified as the first prosecution witness.
While being led in evidence by Mr N.N. Anana, the lead prosecuting counsel for the EFCC, Ezugwu narrated how the couple defrauded him of money he borrowed and had given the couple to purchase a dredger.
Describing himself as a businessman, Ezugwu said that Ijeoma, 37, had in 2016 solicited for funds from him to assist her husband in his business.
Obliging her request, Ezeugwu said that he gave Ijeoma a total of N220, 000.
The witness said that on another occasion, Ijeoma approached him that her husband would meet him to discuss an issue privately with him.
“Her husband called me for discussion and told me that there is a dredger that is on sale by the Lagos State Government and the United Bank for Africa and that I should help him raise some money.
“He said the cost of the dredger is N20 million and that I should help him raise N12 million while he raises N8 million.
“On July 22, 2016 I paid the first installment of N2.4 million into his Zenith Bank, the account’s name is Marine Mayor Ltd.
“On Aug. 12, 2016 I paid N5 million into the account and on Sep. 8, I paid another N5million into the account.
“After I paid all the funds into the account, I called to inform him and he told me he is in Enugu and that when he returns we will see.
“When we saw he told me that the dredger has been sold to another person.
“I told him to return the money to me so that I can return the money to the person I borrowed it from. He told me that he had used N4 million out of it.
“I told him to give the remaining N8 million balance to me so I could give to the owner.
“He refused and said that there is a business he wants to invest the funds in,” said Ezeugwu.
He said that Hillary promised to repay the funds within 90 days but failed, despite several entreaties.
The complainant said that he had to sell his wife’s only car to offset part of the money he borrowed for the transaction.
Ezeugwu told court that Hillary became arrogant, boastful and refused to refund the money.
“His body language and attitude was that I cannot do anything and that he has contacts in high places. I decided to go to the EFCC since I don’t have anyone to fight for me.
“He was invited by the EFCC and in 2018 he paid N4 million via a bank draft in my name. He brought another draft of N6 million which was issued for Christian not Christopher.
“The EFCC asked him to deposit the draft in the right name, he took away the draft and never came back again with it.
“I suspect that it was a fake draft. Right now N8.4 million remains unpaid,” Ezugwu said.
According to the EFCC, the couple alongside their company, Marine Mayor Ltd., committed the offences in 2016 in Lagos.
“The defendants between July and Sep. 2016 with intent to defraud, obtained the sum of N12.4 million from the complainant on the pretext that it was for the purchase of a fairly used Lagos State Government owned dredger.
“The offences contravene Sections 1(1)(a), 1(3) and 8(a) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act of 2016,” Anana said.