I have just obtained a certified true copy of the judgement of the Abuja Magistrate Court, Wuse Zone 6, which convicted the PDP governorship candidate in Akwa Ibom State, Mr Umo Eno of ‘’offences of cheating and dishonesty inducing delivery of property contrary to and punishable under Section 325 of the Penal Code Law, cap 89, laws of Nigeria 2004’’.
The 10-page judgement, delivered by His Worship, Hon. Emmanuel Iyanna, on December 20, 2022, is detailed, thorough and lucid. It spells out the particulars of the case and speaks to the true character of Eno as a deceitful con artist who would do anything to pervert the course of justice and deny his workers their right. I call on Akwa Ibom people to take a keen interest in this matter and assess if the PDP candidate is worthy of the Office of Governor of their State.
The conviction of Umo Eno for cheating and converting the salary of his staff, Mr. Edet Godwin Etim to his personal use, reminds us of the many stories we have heard in the past about the draconian and heartless manner in which he treats his workers. This conviction just shows that those stories, were after all, not as fictitious as Umo Eno claimed.
The complainant in this case, Mr. Edet Godwin Etim, has worked for Umo Eno as a catering staff of his hotel, Royalty Hotels & Recreation Ltd, since 2005 but seconded to ExxonMobil, where the hotel provided catering services. Etim told the court that Umo Eno owed him accumulated salary of N15,277,000 (Fifteen million two hundred and seventy-seven thousand naira) as approved by ExxonMobil, but which Umo Eno refused to pay and converted to his personal use. Etim also stated that he made repeated demands for his wages to be paid, and in some instances, other workers, who were similarly owed, also joined in the agitations for their wages to be paid. But Umo Eno blatantly refused.
Mr. Etim further told the Court that after several demands and protests by the affected workers, Umo Eno agreed to meet with him, the complainant, on April 2, 2007. But as the meeting progressed, Umo Eno ordered his security agents to lock him inside the hotel premises for seven days. It took the intervention of the management of ExxonMobil for him to be released and his suspension from work lifted. Mr. Etim further stated that in October 2010, Umo Eno paid him the sum of N227,000, leaving a balance of N15 million.
READ ALSO: My Take On Court Conviction Of Umo Eno And The Warrant of Arrest Issued Against Him, By Etim Etim
According to the Court judgement, Etim then instructed his lawyer in April 2022 to write to Umo Eno, demanding for the payment of the N15 million, and that failure to pay him would warrant legal actions against him. On receipt of the letter from Etim’s lawyers, Umo Eno resorted to making series of threats against Etim, especially since Etim had convincing evidence to prove his case. Etim has called two witnesses to prove his case: Mr Ubong Eshiet (PW2) and Henry Harcourt (PW3), both of whom are also former workers of Umo Eno who are also owed their wages. Mr Etim is PW1.
Etim further stated that on July 7, 2022, Umo Eno met Mr. Ubong Eshiet and Henry Harcourt in his suite at Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja, where Umo Eno tried to induce them to steal Etim’s android phone and delete the evidence therein; or in the alternative, they should steal the phone and bring it to him, Umo Eno. Umo Eno also begged Eshiet and Harcourt to ask Etim not to go to Court. Eno, they said, promised to pay them N2 million if they could steal Etim’s phone or delete the messages that evidence Eno’s indebtedness.
On 6 July 2022 Umo Eno sent an email to Mr. Eshiet Ubong asking whether he had been able to steal or destroy Edet Godwin Etim’s phone. Both Eshiet Ubong and Henry Harcourt testified in court for the complainant as PW2 and PW3 respectively.
According to the presiding Chief Magistrate, criminal summons had been served on Umo Eno but he refused to attend the court proceedings; and that every adjournment also had hearing summons issued and served on him but he ignored it.
Ignoring the court summons is a dangerous gambit for a defendant, but Umo Eno is known to ignore court summonses. Between June and November 2022, he failed to attend the certificate forgery case brought against him by Mr. Akan Okon, an aspirant in the PDP governorship primary.
At the end of trial, the Honourable presiding Chief Magistrate, Emmanuel Iyanna found Umo Eno guilty as charged, and convicted him. Certificate of judgement issued on 23/12/2022 shows that he was convicted as charged under section 325 of the Penal Code cap 89 Laws of Nigeria for cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property.
A warrant of arrest was issued by the learned trial Chief Magistrate on 23/12/2022 for his arrest and sentencing to not less seven years imprisonment. But because his lawyers had filed an appeal, the arrest may not happen.
From the details of this Court judgement, I will like to raise the following points:
•For me, this case presents Umo Eno as a dishonest and deceitful con man who can defraud his workers of their legitimate income and wages. The Bible is very specific in enjoining us not to cheat our workers, as every laborer deserves his wage (1 Timothy 5:18). What manner of Christian and Pastor is Umo Eno?
•This case also reminds us of the case of certificate forgery which Akan Okon brought against Umo Eno. If Umo Eno can defraud his workers so unconscionably and turn around to pay some of the workers to steal the phone of Godwin Edet Etim, another aggrieved worker, it is plausible that he forged his certificate as Akan Okon alleges. This man is capable of harming his political opponents, just to have his way.
•How did Udom Emmanuel know Umo Eno, and does the governor have the details of the fraudulent tendencies of Umo Eno as detailed out in this Court judgement? Does Obong Attah know of this aspect of Umo Eno? What of the OkuIbom?
•Akwa Ibom people, are you ready to have a character like Umo Eno as our Governor? Can he be trusted with our treasury? Does his conduct reflect the true character of a Christian? In all honesty, could God have unveiled Umo Eno to Udom Emmanuel? Questions! Questions! And more questions! My heart is so troubled.