A Federal High Court sitting in Jos, the Plateau State capital, on Wednesday ordered the prison remand of the Managing Director of Dadin Kowa Microfinance Bank Limited, Mr. Irmiya Jatau, over N11.5bn fraud.
Also remanded was the Bishop of Maranatha Church, Jonas Katung, who was charged alongside Jatau by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, which accused them of defrauding hundreds of depositors.
The accused were slammed with 24 counts before Justice Musa Kurya. Joined with them in the charge are one Okewole Dayo and Dadin Kowa Microfinance Bank Limited.
The EFCC alleged that the defendants conspired to defraud over 64,000 customers of the defunct Covenant Fadama Cooperative Society to the tune of N11.5 bn.
In one of the counts filed against the accused, the EFCC alleged that sometime in 2012, they “did conspire with yourselves to commit money laundering contrary to Section 18 (a )of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011, as amended by the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2012 and punishable under Section 15 (3) of the same Act.”
They were also accused of transferring the sum of N50m from Covenant Fadama Cooperative Society account to a First Bank account, with number 2003050001625, into the Dadin Kowa Microfinance, First Bank account Number-2016452671.
This sum, the count said, represented proceeds of unlawful acts and amounted to an offence contrary to Section 15 (25) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011, as amended by the Money Laundering amendment (Prohibition) Act 2012 and punishable under Section 54 of the same Act, among others.
But when the charges were read to them, all the accused persons pleaded not guilty, except Bishop Katung, who pleaded guilty to one of the counts before he suddenly changed his mind and pleaded not guilty like others.
Katung had earlier on December 9, 2015, been granted bail before the case was adjourned till Wednesday.
The EFCC prosecutor, Mr. L. P. Asor, said Jatau was not covered by the bail application earlier granted to the accused persons because no charge was preferred against him as of the time the bail application was granted to the bishop who is the first accused person in the charge.
According to the EFCC, the charges against the bank MD were only filed two days before.
However, while opposing the bail application, the prosecuting counsel argued that the bail granted to the first accused person should also apply to the bank MD since he is one of the co-accused persons in the entire case.
After hearing the argument from the defence and prosecution counsel, the presiding judge ruled in favour of the prosecution and ordered that the bank MD be remanded in prison pending when his bail application would be filed and considered by the court.
The case was adjourned till March 7 for further hearing.