Court jails ex-bank manager for 2 years in Port Harcourt

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One Chinyere Oti, a former bank manager of Diamond Bank has been convicted and sentenced to years imprisonment for defrauding the bank of N25 million.

Also convicted was a former account officer of the bank, Odigboh Okechucku.

They were arraigned before a Rivers State high court sitting in Port Harcourt on November 19, 2009, by the Economic Finacial Crimes Commission, EFCC.

Their charges border on conspiracy and stealing.

Oti and Okechukwu were arrested after Diamond Bank Plc petitioned the EFCC alleging that its Manager, Rumukwrushi Branch, Port Harcourt, fraudulently opened a Current Account for one of its customers and used the account to make fraudulent withdrawals and overdrew it to the tune of N25 million.

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Investigations showed that the alleged customer of the bank never opened an account with the bank, rather, Odigboh Okechukwu, an account officer with the bank used the customer’s photograph to open the account without the customer’s knowledge or consent. It was through the account the two convicts defrauded the bank.

They pleaded not guilty to the crime which led to a 10-year-long trial.

The prosecution called three witnesses and tendered 15 exhibits while the defence called three witnesses.

Count four reads: “Odigboh Okechukwu and Chinyere Oti on or about the 23rd day of October, 2008 at Diamond Bank Plc Port Harcourt within the Port Harcourt Judicial Division did fraudulently steal the sum of Twenty Million Four Hundred And Thirty One Thousand Three Hundred And Forty Two Naira Five Kobo (N20,431, 342.05) property of Diamond Bank Plc by means of Diamond Bank Cheque No. 16216303 through an unfunded account in the name of Achufa Investment Limited operated by Odigboh Okechukwu and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 381(1) and punishable under Section 390( 9) of the Criminal Code CAP 37 Vol. II Laws of Rivers State of Nigeria 1999.”

Justice Adama Iyami-Lamikanra, the Chief Judge of Rivers State who delivered a judgement on Monday, found the defendants guilty of the crimes and sentenced them to two years each or an option of fine of 1 million naira each.

The judge also ordered the convicts to pay the sum of N25 million as restitution to Diamond Access Bank Plc.