The Port Harcourt’s Zonal Command of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has arraigned Azubuike Uzoma, an oil magnate, before Justice A.T. Mohammed of the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
Uzoma faces allegations of illegal dealings in petroleum products amounting to N24,310,000 (Twenty Four Million, Three Hundred and Ten Thousand Naira).
He came under the EFCC’s scrutiny after operatives of the Commission arrested him in the Ndoni Community of Onelga Local Government Area in Rivers State. He faced allegations of illegal dealings in petroleum products and money laundering.
Investigations revealed that Uzoma was involved in a fraudulent oil business, where he allegedly defrauded his clients by accepting payments for the supply of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) from the Warri depot without delivering the products or returning the clients’ money.
The charges against Uzoma were brought against him on October 25, 2023. He was arraigned on three-count charges, one of which reads:
“That you, Azubuike Uzoma (Trading under the name & style of ALVIN D INTERNATIONAL) sometime in June 2022 within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court took possession of the aggregate sum of N23,310,000.00 (Twenty Three Million, Three Hundred and Ten Thousand Naira) paid into your account with Keystone Bank Limited when you reasonably ought to have known that the said fund formed part of the proceeds of an unlawful activity, to wit: illegal dealing in petroleum products and thereby committed an offense contrary to Section 18(2)(d) of the Money Laundering Act.”
Uzoma pleaded not guilty to the charges when they were read to him. Following his plea, prosecution counsel Abdulrahman Abubakar requested the court to set a trial date and to remand the defendant to a Correctional Service facility.
Counsel to the defendant, C. J. Nmerem, did not oppose the prosecution’s requests but urged the court to grant his client bail to enable him to prepare for his trial.
Justice Mohammed granted the defendant bail in the sum of N1,000,000.00 (One Million Naira) and required two sureties in like sum. One of the sureties must be a civil servant with the Rivers State government not below grade level 14, and the other surety should be a family member of the defendant. The sureties must deposit two recent passport photographs with the court and provide verifiable addresses.
The case has been adjourned until January 22, 2024, for the commencement of the trial.