Lawyer, Mike Ikegbunam, dragged to court over N91m land fraud in Enugu

A lawyer, Barrister Mike Ikegbunam, has been arraigned before Justice Mohammed Garba Umar of the Federal High Court sitting in Independence Layout, Enugu State on a seven-count charge bordering on money laundering and obtaining by false pretence to the tune of N91 million.

In a Friday statement, the EFCC said its Enugu Zonal Command arrested the accused on Wednesday, January 31 following his arrest.

The anti-graft commission said Ikegbunam was arrested on July 12, 2023, owing to the claims of the Senior Staff Association of Universities, Teaching Hospitals, Research Institutes and Associated Institutions (SSAUTHRIAI), Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital Nnewi Branch, alleging that its members paid N91 million to him for the purchase of 130 plots of land at Umuagu, Ozu Ndiukwuanu Town, in Orumba North Local Government Area of ​​Anambra State.

The EFCC said its investigations showed that the defendant, who had refunded N10 million to the association, used N16.5 million allegedly to be part of the money to acquire three plots of land for himself at Dubai Estate, Phase 2 in Awka, Anambra State .

One of the counts reads: “That you, Mike Ikegbunam on 16th August, 2022 in Umuagu Ozu Village, Anambra State within the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court of Nigeria with intent to defraud, induced the Senior Staff Association of Universities, Teaching Hospitals, Research Institutes and Associated Institutions of Nigeria to deliver to you, the sum of N25,000,000.00 (Twenty-Five Million naira) under the pretense that you are capable of acquiring some portions of land for their members at Umuagu Ndiukwuanu Town in Orumba North Local Government Area of ​​Anambra State which pretense you knew to be false and thereby committed an offense contrary to Section 1 (1) (a) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offenses Act, 2006 and punishable under Section 1 (3) of the same Act ”.

He pleaded “not guilty” when the charges were read to him.”

In view of his plea, Counsel to the EFCC, Nuradeen Shehu Ingawa prayed the court for a trial date and for the accused to be remanded at the correctional centre.

The defense counsel, AG Anyigo prayed the court to admit his client to bail adding that “the defendant is a very responsible personality in the society”.

Responding, Ingawa vehemently opposed the bail application based on the gravity of the offense and urged the court to dismiss the bail application.

In his ruling, Justice Umar granted the defendant bail on self-recognition being a legal practitioner on the conditions that the defendant must deposit his Call to Bar certificate with the court and make available one surety, who must be his cousin.

The defendant was remanded at the EFCC custody pending the fulfillment of the bail conditions.

The judge adjourned the matter to March 21, 2024, for trial.

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