The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Makurdi zonal office, on Thursday, arraigned one Benki Iortyom Womboh, a lawyer at Federal High Court, Makurdi, Plateau State.
The suspect was arraigned on two counts of alleged refusal to furnish EFCC with information required in the declaration of assets form, and for accepting cash payment without going through a financial institution
One of the charges read thus, “That you, Benki Iortyom Womboh between 2013 and 2018 in Makurdi, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court accepted cash payment of the total sum of N21,718,000 (Twenty One Million, Seven Hundred and Eighteen Thousand Naira) money belonging to the Nigeria Union of Pensioner (NUP) Benue State Chapter without going through a financial institution and thereby committed an offence, contrary to Section 1(a) of the Money Laundering (prohibition) Act, 2011 (As Amended) and punishable under 16(2) (b) and 16 (3) of the same Act.”
He, however, pleaded not guilty when the charges were read to him.
Prosecution counsel, Y. Y. Tarfa, asked for a trial date and opposed the remanding of the defendant in EFCC custody.
While counsel to the defendant, A. A. Chukuma did not oppose the application for a trial date, he made an oral application for the bail of his client stressing that as a lawyer of 17 years in the bar with an establishment of law firm within the jurisdiction of the court, he should be granted bail based on self-recognition as a senior lawyer within the jurisdiction of the court.
Justice Mobolaji Olajuwon admitted the accused to bail in the sum of N2,000,000.00 (two million Naira) with one surety in like sum, who must be gainfully employed.
The case was adjourned till January 15, 2020 for commencement of trial.
In a related development, the anti-graft commission also secured the conviction of one Akintunde Ogunrinde (a.k.a. Kekere).
Ogunrinde was sentenced to two years imprisonment by Justice Mobolaji Olajuwon of the Federal High Court sitting in Makurdi.
Ogunrinde who entered into plea bargain agreement with the commission was re-arraigned on one charge of attempting to defraud one Ademola Adewuyi of N800,000.00, a charge he pleaded guilty to.
In view of his plea, the prosecuting counsel, G. G. Chia-Yakua, urged the court to accept the plea bargain and convict him accordingly.
Justice Olajuwon pronounced him guilty and subsequently convicted him and sentenced him to two years imprisonment with an option of fine of N100,000.