Ex-lawmaker arraigned for alleged theft

Former Member of House of Reps, Chidi Duru

A former member of the House of Representatives, Chidi Duru, was arraigned Monday before a chief magistrate court at Tinubu, Lagos, on a four-count charge of conspiracy and stealing.

Mr. Duru, who represented Ahiazu-Ezinihitte Mbaise Federal Constituency between 1999 and 2003, was arraigned alongside a lawyer, Smart Iheazor.

According to the police prosecutor, both men on January 11, 2017, allegedly invaded the head office of the First Guarantee Pension Limited (FGPL), in the company of others still at large, with the intent to forcefully take over the management and assets of the Pension Fund Administrator.

Messrs Duru and Iheazor, who are lawyers with 28 and 30 post-Bar experience respectively, were also accused of carting away valuables from the company’s premises at 65, Kudirat Abiola Way, Oregun, Ikeja Lagos.

The charge sheet marked No. 12/02/2017read: “That you, Nze Chidi Duru ‘M’, Smart Iheazor, ‘M’ and others now at large, on the 11th day of January 2017, at No. 65 Kudirat Abiola Way, Oregun, Ikeja, Lagos, in the Lagos Magistrate District, did conspire among yourselves to commit felony to wit stealing and thereby committed an offence punishable under section 409 of the Criminal Laws of Lagos State of Nigeria, 2011.

“That you, Nze Chidi Duru ‘M’, Smart Iheazor ‘M’ and others now at large, on the same date, and place in the aforementioned Magistrate District, did steal (3) three office files, (1) one HP Laptop valued at the sum of 250,000 (Two Hundred and Fifty Thousand Naira) property of First Guarantee Pension Limited (FGPL) and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 285 of Criminal Laws of Lagos State, 2011.

“That you, Nze Chidi Duru ‘M’, Smart Iheazor ‘M’ and others now at large, on the same date, and place in the aforementioned Magistrate District, did conduct yourselves in a manner likely to cause breach of the peace by wilfully and unlawfully invading First Guarantee Pension Limited (FGPL) offices with an intent to forcefully takeover the management and assets of the company and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 111(d) of the Criminal Laws of Lagos State, 2011.

“That you Nze Chidi Duru ‘M’ and Smart Iheazor ‘M’ on the same time, date, and place in the aforementioned Magistrate District, with intent to defraud, did introduce yourselves as Vice Chairman/Secretary, respectively, of First Guarantee pension Limited (FGPL) and acted same in an attempt to takeover the management and assets of the company and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 378(1) of the Criminal Law of Lagos state, 2011”.

Both defendants pleaded not guilty to the offences.

Mr. Duru reportedly collapsed in police custody on Friday night.

Before his arraignment on Monday, his lawyer, Emeka Etiaba, told the court that his client was still ill having just been discharged from the hospital a few hours before attending the court proceedings.

The police prosecutor, however, objected to Mr. Etiaba’s claim, noting that the doctor at the police hospital, where Mr. Duru was
hospitalised, had certified him fit.

After listening to both counsels, Ade Adefulire, the magistrate, ordered the defendants to take their pleas.

Afterwards, Mr. Etiaba urged the court to grant the accused bail on own recognisance, noting that both were senior lawyers, and that Mr. Duru was a former member of the House of Representatives.

The defence lawyer also said their offences were bailable ones.

The prosecutor, however, objected to the bail on own recognisance, insisting that they should be given sureties as they reside in Abuja, and not Lagos.

The magistrate granted the accused bail in the sum of N500,000 each with one surety each in like sum.

The matter was adjourned till March 9, 2017 for trial.

Mr. Duru, one of the key founders of FGPL, has been having a running battles with fellow shareholders, a development that led the pension commission to appoint an interim management for the firm.

The pension commission had sidelined the former lawmaker from the company after his colleagues accused him of defrauding the company, an allegation the police and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) investigated. The businessman strongly rejected the allegations.

A few months ago, the EFCC dropped charges against Mr. Duru, in what the former lawmaker interpreted as clearance to return to his post as vice chairman of FGPL.

He had told PREMIUM TIMES that he was returning to work since the anti-graft commission had withdrawn charges against him.

Read details of Mr. Duru’s case with FGPL here.


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  • umunnem

    There’s always two sides to a story.
    PT, get me the other side please….

    • kinsly

      Either you go to court to hear the other side yourself or you try another media house.

    • absam777

      If you know the so called “other side” of the story, tell us or stop disturbing us from enjoying this Nollywood of Vagabonds and Power.

  • Netanyahu

    This one-sided story is to create mischief. PT should be careful when reporting stories and don’t make it look like a hatchet job. Two senior lawyers cannot be common thieves as the story portrays. They may have acted outside the law by forcefully trying to right an impunity. Who knows.

    • kinsly

      You will hear the other side in court, thats why he was taken there.

      • Julius

        Aptly stated..straight to the point. Thank you !

    • mukaro

      I hope you are not one of those his accomplices now at large? Duru is only lucky to be getting only charges for theft now because it was actually an armed robbery offence. He invaded the place with armed men whom he
      claimed were plain cloth policemen, in addition to thugs.

      Meanwhile,whoever said EFCC exonerated him? That us how he goes about peddling falsehood. He has been on Police and EFCC wanted list all the while. EFCC tactically withdrew the charges so he could come out of hiding. See
      how it worked.

      He jumped bail granted him by former police IG, M.D Abubakar in 2012, leading to him and his brother, Ugochukwu, being declared wanted over N20 million naira theft. Once he got the bail, he disappeared into the thin air. From his hiding he sent through his lawyers a kabukabu injunction restraining the police from arresting or prosecuting him.

      Excerpts of the gazette marked CR: 3000/GP.SEC/MU/TB/ABJ/21/02/13 and entitled “Nze Chidi Duru ‘M’ Wanted by the Office of the Inspector-General of Police, Louis Edet House, Abuja” says: “The above named person is hereby
      declared wanted by the Nigeria Police on C.R.O Form 5, Issued by the Office of the Inspector-General of Police.

      “He is wanted for the offence of conspiracy, forgery, theft, and cheating.

      “Method used in committing the offence is that suspect illegally
      diverted the sum of N20 Million Naira, which belong to First Guarantee
      Pension Limited”.

      Before then, the EFCC had also arrested him in 2011 over volumnous financial crimes against the First Guarantee Pension Limited and he was granted administrative bail, only for him to jump
      bail.

      In May last year, the EFCC had no choice, but to arrest his sister, Mrs Chinyere Ekweonu, a Director with Federal Ministry of Finance, who stood surety for him in 2011 because he jumped bail again and refused to show up for his trial. So, the so-called withdrawal of charges must have been what the EFCC used to lure him our of his perpetual hiding.

      These are facts that were widely reported in the media and can easily be googled up. It is not as anybody is after Duru. Duru is after himself and it is wicked to steal from pensioners.

      Get it, Duru is a serial and unrepentant criminal. See how he immediately feigned sickness once he is caught so that he would get bail. Yet he was hail and hearty only a few days ago when he invaded a corprate entity with armed men like a trained armed robber. But it is good police ensured he was arraigned. Let him have his day in court.

      Kudos to the police on this one.

    • Mufu Ola

      What else is their offence if they invade an office with armed men? What if u have an issue with a former staff in your company& he decides to come to u with armed men to settle the issues?

      • Julius

        Thinking , reasoning is not his strongest attribute !

    • Kosi Omasili

      “They may have acted outside the law by forcefully trying to right an impunity.” Netanyahu, you have said it all! Just as ignorance of the law is no excuse, the motive for acting illegally or outside the law does not remove the criminality.

      It does not matter that they are senior lawyers – that is just a title. The criminal element is in the individual! Chekina.

      • mukaro

        Yes, in the individual, not his or her title.

    • Julius

      “Two senior lawyers cannot be common thieves as the story portrays. They may have acted outside the law by forcefully trying to right an impunity. Who knows.” Oh really ?A judge and his wife( Daramola ) are now in court for accepting bribes, Methu tried to eat his confessional statement, destroyed government document in the process but, you are claiming a senior lawyer cannot be a common thief . Be serious, most of them are worst than the common thieves .

    • Oskirin

      u really talk like netanyahu..

    • Patrick Kayode

      i so concur with you. what are they even accused of stealing? Laptops worth just 250k? Habba! This story is one sided to me fa.

      • Julius

        You being sarcastic, right ?. I hope.

      • mukaro

        Is it about the laptop or content of the laptop?

    • thusspokez

      This one-sided story is to create mischief. PT should be careful when reporting stories and don’t make it look like a hatchet job..

      I am interesting in why you wrote this. Is the alleged thief your brother or tribesman? In Nigerian, it would often seems that one tribe’s corruption, is another tribe’s success story.

      They may have acted outside the law by forcefully trying to right an impunity. Who knows.

      Well, shouldn’t he have gone to the police or courts or are you encouraging jungle justice?

  • Kosi Omasili

    Kai, this Nze Duru man looks hungry ooo! After he left House of Reps and since declared wanted by the Police and the EFCC, it’s been from one crime to the other! I learnt that OBJ dealt with him and he could not come back to the House of Reps. After that, things became hard for him and it was reported that one Senator Annie Okonkwo threw him out of his house where he was squatting. He was said to be living above his means and in desperation to maintain his “Honourable” status he started scamming people. It was also reported that he swindled his erstwhile Godfather and benefactor, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and that all these people cursed him. The evil that men do lives with them! Maybe the law of karma is finally taking its toll on him. Is it madness? How else does one explain the fact that a former (so called) Hon. Member and a lawyer of 28 years will take laws into his hands and invade a company with armed men when he also has pending court cases on the same matter? Insanity!!!

  • Angry Niaja

    This one too, sickness bug, all the thieves and looter, he’s now so sick, he even attended court in his pyjamas and cannot even walk, haba Naija no de carry last, olodo vagabonds.

  • Kosi Omasili

    “A few months ago, the EFCC dropped charges against Mr. Duru, in what the former lawmaker interpreted as clearance to return to his post as vice chairman of FGPL. He had told PREMIUM TIMES that he was returning to work since the anti-graft commission had withdrawn charges against him.”

    I read the above quoted write up by PT and my questions are:

    1. Does dropping of charges by EFCC amount to being discharged and acquitted of a crime? The answer is capital NO!

    2. How can Chidi Duru, the so-called lawyer of 28 years, say he was returning to work since EFCC dropped charges when there are reports of about 5 different pending cases on the matter in the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal, including his appeal on his sack from the Board? This Hon. Duru is really a crazy man and needs to undergo psychiatric test.