The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has arraigned a man and his wife before a Lagos State High Court, Ikeja for obtaining $102,550 from an American company under the pretext of helping the company to win a federal government contract.
The man, Austine Ezeama, his wife, Juliet, and a company, Mabrubeni Nigeria Limited, were on Wednesday arraigned before Justice O. H. Oshodi on a seven-count charge bordering on conspiracy and obtaining money by false pretence.
According to the charge sheet, the accused allegedly obtained $30,570 from CIFERCOM LLC under the pretence that the money was for its registration as a company in Nigeria, preparatory to the award of a $8 million contract to the company by the Federal Government of Nigeria.
Both accused persons pleaded not guilty to the charge.
The prosecution counsel, V. O. Agboje, asked for a trial date and also requested the accused be remanded in prison.
But the defence counsel, D. C. Nkemdirum, made an application for their bail, which he said had been served the prosecution since October 10.
Justice Oshodi remanded the defendants in EFCC custody and adjourned the matter till November 21 for hearing of the bail application.
The American company had lodged a complaint with the EFCC after it was tricked into paying $102,550 as processing fees for the non-existent contract.
According to the commission, the suspects in January 2015 convinced CIFERCOM LLC to come to Nigeria for the $8million contract to be facilitated by ranking officials in the country.
Mr. Ezeama was said to have introduced his wife, Juliet Ezeama, as a Federal Government agent, who served as intermediary between them.
“After a series of communication through emails, several fees were required from the complainant to facilitate the business. Eventually the sum of $102,550 was paid to Mabrubeni Nigeria Limited owned by the Ezeamas”, the EFCC stated.
Sometime in May 2015, Mr. Ezeama was said to have further informed the complainant that the new President of Nigeria wanted the project extended to cover the whole country with a new cost of $120 Million, and that the victim was expected to pay additional $650,000.00 before June 10, 2015.
After waiting without receiving any contract, the complainant became apprehensive and approached the EFCC through his solicitors for investigation into the matter.