The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has secured jail terms for two former staff of Diamond Bank Plc which merged with Access Bank Plc earlier this year. The disgraced bankers —Chinyere Oti and Odigbo Okechukwu — were found guilty of stealing the sum of N25,081,467 from the Rumukwrushi Port Harcourt branch of the bank in 2008.
Chinyere Oti, who was a manager at the bank, was accused by the EFCC of conniving with Odigbo Okechukwu (a former account officer) to steal the money. Although the defendants pleaded not guilty to the indictment, they were both found guilty, yesterday, by Justice Adama Iyanmi-Lawa. They will now serve two years in prison or pay a fine of N1 million each.
In the meantime, the convicted former bankers have been ordered to refund the sum of N25 million to Access Bank Plc. The bank had petitioned the anti-graft agency immediately the crime was discovered.
Channels TV reported that the accused were dragged to court in November 2009 by the EFCC’s Port Harcourt Zonal Office. The seven-count charges against them were amended earlier this year and read partly thus:
“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.”
Fraud within the Nigerian banking sector is not a new thing. Occasionally, culprits have been uncovered, prosecuted and found guilty. In 2018, Nairametrics reported that the Nigeria Police Force was seeking to arrest nine rogue bankers who allegedly stole over N500 million from bank customers.