The Lagos Command of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on Monday, arraigned Philemon Gora, Osigwe Edison, Gracious Environ Workers Limited & Planners Nigeria Limited before Justice S.O. Solebo of the Lagos State High Court sitting in Ikeja on a 10-count charge bordering on stealing, conspiracy to obtain by false witness and obtaining by false pretence to the tune of N525million.
The first defendant, Gora, was arrested by the EFCC in July 2021, following a petition alleging that he used one of his front companies, Gracious Environ Workers & Planners Nigeria Limited, to obtain the sum of N525m from a traditional ruler, Kabiyesi Jacob Esan of Ijesa, Osun State and owner of Liberitas Plc, with the assurance of helping him convert it to the United Arab Emirate, UAE, Dirham.
Gora, however, reneged on the agreement with the complainant, as investigation by the EFCC revealed that he, instead, transferred the money to his various accounts as well as to some Bureaux de Change operators, who confirmed giving him the Dollar equivalent in cash.
One of the counts reads: “Philemon Ibrahim Gora, Osigwe Tobechukwu Edison and Gracious Environ Workers Limited & Planners Nigeria Limited, sometime in 2021, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court ,and with intent to defraud ,did conspire amongst yourselves to steal the total sum of N525,000,000 (Five Hundred and Twenty-five Million Naira) property of HRH Jacob Esan.”
Another count reads: “Philemon Ibrahim Gora, Osigwe Tobechukwu Edison and Gracious Environ Workers Limited & Planners Nigeria Limited, sometime in 2021, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, dishonesty converted to your own use the total sum of N300, 000,000 (Three Hundred Million Naira) property of Liberitas Plc.”
The defendants are further accused of defrauding Mabilla Resource Ltd. of the sum of N140million, and Covidol Traders, UAE of the sum of N85million.
They pleaded “not guilty” to the charges.
Following their pleas, the prosecuting counsel, Chineye Okezie, prayed the Court for a date for the commencement of trial.
Okezie also informed the Court that the first defendant, Gora, was also being prosecuted by the EFCC at a Federal Capital Territory, FCT High Court, Abuja.
Okezie said: “Following his arraignment at the FCT High Court, he was remanded at the EFCC Headquarters facility.
“We humbly pray that he be ordered remanded in the EFCC custody, Lagos facility, to enable us ensure that he attends both trials.
“For the second defendant, we pray that he be remanded at a Correctional Centre in Lagos.”
Defence counsel, Mohammed Ofoku (for Gora) and Aloy Ezenduka (for Osigwe and Gracious Environ Workers Limited & Planners Nigeria Limited), informed the Court of their intentions to file bail applications for their clients, respectively.
Consequently, Justice Solebo ordered the remand of Gora in the EFCC custody and Osigwe at the Correctional Centre in Lagos.
The case has been adjourned till January 26, 2022 for hearing of bail applications.