The Federal High Court in Abuja on Friday ordered the prison remand of an official of the Economic Community of the West Africa States Commission, ECOWAS secretariat in Abuja, Muhammad Dangana, for N627.7m fraud.
Justice Okon Abang made the order shortly after the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission arraigned him on 15 counts of money laundering involving the alleged diversion of the funds belonging to the ECOWAS Commission between April and August 2016.
Dagana, an Executive Assistant to the Financial Controller in the ECOWAS Commission, pleaded not guilty to all the counts read to him on Friday.
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Part of the charges was that he allegedly conspired with others who were said to be at large, to launder the various sums of money amounting to about N627.7m.
According to the prosecution led by Wahab Shittu, the offences the defendant was accused of violated sections 18(a) and 15(2)(d) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 (as amended).
He was said to have among others, specifically laundered N200m “sometimes in 2016” and which he allegedly diverted dishonestly from ECOWAS Commission’s funds entrusted in his care.
He was said to have used the money to buy a plot of land at Plot 86, Guzape District, Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory.
The prosecution also alleged he used the sum of N42m he diverted from ECOWAS Commission’s account also “sometime in 2016” to buy a four-bedroom terrace house at 4, Agatu Street, Area 11, Garki, Abuja.
It also accused him of disguising the illicit origin of certain N30m belonging to ECOWAS Commission and diverting it on August 1, 2016 by using a firm, Cactus Facility Management Company Limited to transfer the money to Recovery Package Bureau De Change Ltd owned and managed by him.
The judge, Justice Abang, fixed November 11, 12, 13 and 14 for trial.
The defendant is to remain in detention pending when he would file his bail application.
An attempt by his lawyer to move the application orally was opposed by the EFCC, an objection which the judge upheld.
According to Justice Abang a date for the hearing of the bail application will be fixed as soon as it is filed.