The Enugu Zonal Command of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has arraigned a lawyer before the Federal High Court in Enugu State on money laundering charges.
The lawyer, Barrister Mike Ikegbunam, was brought before Justice Mohammed Garba Umar of the Federal High Court in Independence Layout, Enugu State, on Wednesday, January 31, 2024, on a seven-count bordering on money laundering and obtaining ₦91 million by false pretense.
One of the counts read: “That you, Mike Ikegbunam, on 16th August 2022 in Umuagu Ozu Village, Anambra State within the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court of Nigeria with intent to defraud, induced the Senior Staff Association of Universities, Teaching Hospitals, Research Institutes and Associated Institutions of Nigeria to deliver to you, the sum of ₦25,000,000.00 (Twenty-Five Million Naira) under the pretense that you are capable of acquiring some portions of land for their members at Umuagu Ndiukwuanu Town in Orumba North Local Government Area of Anambra State, which pretense you knew to be false, thereby committing an offense contrary to Section 1 (1) (a) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offenses Act, 2006 and punishable under Section 1 (3) of the same Act.”
He pleaded “not guilty” when the charges were read to him. In view of his plea, Counsel to the EFCC, Nuradeen Shehu Ingawa, prayed the court for a trial date and for the defendant to be remanded at the Correctional Centre. The defense counsel, A. G. Anyigo, prayed the court to admit his client to bail, adding that “the defendant is a very responsible personality in society.”
Responding, Ingawa vehemently opposed the bail application based on the gravity of the offense and urged the court to dismiss the bail application. In his ruling, Justice Umar granted the defendant bail on self-recognizance as a legal practitioner on the following conditions: That the defendant must deposit his Call to Bar Certificate with the court and make available one surety, who must be his cousin. The defendant was remanded in EFCC custody pending the fulfilment of the bail conditions. The judge adjourned the matter to March 21, 2024, for trial.
Ikegbunam was arrested on July 12, 2023, after the Senior Staff Association of Universities, Teaching Hospitals, Research Institutes, and Associated Institutions (SSAUTHRIAI), Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital Nnewi Branch, alleges that its members paid N91 million to him for the purchase of 130 plots of land at Umuagu, Ozu Ndiukwuanu Town, in Orumba North Local Government Area of Anambra State.
Investigations showed that the defendant, who has refunded N10 million to the association, used N16.5 million suspected to be part of the money, to acquire three plots of land for himself at Dubai Estate, Phase 2 in Awka, Anambra State.