The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Lagos Zonal Command, on Wednesday, June 14, 2023 continued the prosecution of one Bernard Nzenwa before Justice R.A. Oshodi of a Lagos Special Offences Court, sitting in Ikeja, by presenting two more witnesses, one Stephen Fadeyi, an official of the Nigerian Customs Service, NCS, and one Titi Osuntoki, a former Executive Director with Guaranty Trust Bank, GTB, who testified against him and his company.
Nzenwa is being prosecuted alongside his company, Omega Maritine and Energy Limited on a one-count charge bordering on issuance of false documents contrary to Section 360(1)(b) of the Criminal Law of Lagos State 2011.
The count reads: “Bernard Okechukwu Nzenwa, Omega Maritine and Energy Limited, and Dr. Oluchi Nzenwa, (now at large), sometimes on the 9th March, 2011 within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, issued a false document titled, “BOND FOR THE RE-EXPORTATION OF IMPORTED GOODS DELIVERED WITHOUT PAYMENT OF IMPORT DUTIES.”
He pleaded “not guilty” to the charge when he was arraigned on December 6, 2022.
Testifying as the third prosecution witness, Fadeyi, led in evidence by the counsel for the EFCC, G.C. Akaogu, told the Court that sometimes in May 2022, the Customs Service, received a letter of inquiry from the EFCC “on this particular company”.
He explained that if someone was granted a temporary importation permit, “the bond serves as a guarantee in lieu of you not been able to pay customs duty, in which case the bank will be able to offset it”.
Testifying further that he was not a party to the transaction in question, he said, “In 2015 the man in charge of bond license and permit seal, wrote a letter to the bank to convert the bond to the Nigerian Customs Service, but the bank replied that the bond did not originate from the bank.”
He noted that the value attached to the bond, was about N97,480,930.
According to him, “When I got the letter from the EFCC, I decided to write to the bank for more clarification, and the bank replied me that the bond did not come from them.”
He thereafter, identified the copies of the bond diary, the letter his colleague to the GTB in 2015, the response from the bank indicating that the bond did not emanate from the bank, as well as the correspondence between him and the bank in 2022 on the subject matter.
The prosecution sought to tender them in evidence. There was no objection by the counsel for the defendant, Godwin Omoaka, SAN.
Justice Oshodi, thereafter, admitted all the documents as exhibits against the defendant.
Osuntoki, testifying as the fourth witness was also confronted with the said bond document said to have emanated from GTB.
Identifying the said document, she refuted the claim by the defence that the signature on the face of it was hers.
“This is certainly not my signature; this is not the way I write; it is a far cry from my signature; I certainly didn’t sign that document,” she said.
When asked by Akaogu if she could oblige the court her signature specimen in court, she said, “I’ll gladly give the specimen of my signature”.
She further testified that at the time she was with the bank spaning 21 years, “signature was done manually”.
Thereafter, Akaogu applied to the court for the witness to be given plain A4 paper to append 10 specimens of her signature in open court. There was no objection from the defence.
The prosecution thereafter sought to tender the signature specimens, and there was no objection by the defence and it was admitted as exhibit against the defendant.