A Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, has remanded a couple; Mr Emmanuel Dike and his wife, Ugochi Dike in the Port Harcourt Correctional Center over alleged N500 million fraud.
The couple who are facing five counts of conspiracy and fraud in suit Number FHC/PH/458c/ 2023 were also granted bail by the trial Judge, Justice Patricia I. Ajoku.
When the matter was mentioned in court on Wednesday, the couple separately pleaded not guilty to the charge filed by the Federal Government through the Port Harcourt Zonal Officer of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
According to the charge, the accused persons allegedly defrauded a company – Clipboard Office Superstores Limited, of the sum of N500 million with the pretence that it was for investment purposes that would yield the company 10 per cent interest.
Parts of the counts read, “That you Ugochi Eziaku Dike, Emmanuel Dike, Dike and Phils Associates Ltd.; Kelechi Chigozirim Ahiawe (still at large). and Ampletech Integrated Services Ltd, sometimes between August 24, 2020, and February 15, 2021, at Port Harcourt within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court did conspire among yourselves to commit a felony, to wit: obtaining money by false pretence, and thereby committed an offence and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 8(a) of the Advance Fee Fraud and other Fraud Related Offences Act, 2006 and punishable under Section l(3) of the Same Act.
“That you Ugochi Eziaku Dike, Emmanuel Dike, Dike and Phil Associates Ltd., Kelechi Chigoirim Ahiawe (still at large). and Ampletech Integrated Services Ltd, at Port Harcourt within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court. fraudulently converted to your own use, Five Hundred Million Naira, (N500, 000, 000.00) only, property of Clipboard Office Superstores Limited contrary to Section 383(1) and (2) (a) of the Criminal Code Act, and punishable under section 390 (9) of the same Act.”
Also at the mention of the matter, the defense counsel, Jerome Okeke, told the court that he had filed an 11-paragraph affidavit to support his bail application.
Okeke pleaded with the court to grant his clients bail, assuring that they would be present at all sitting and would not jump bail.
But the prosecution counsel, Dr Ben Ubi who also filed an 18-paragraph affidavit to counter the bail application, told the court to refuse the bail plea.
Reacting to the arguments on the bail application, Justice Ajoku granted the bail application by the defense counsel.
Justice Ajoku granted bail of N1 million each to the couple with a surety that must be up to grade level 12 civil servants in Rivers state and should present a letter of employment and certificate of occupancy.
The court continued that the surety must reside within the jurisdiction of the court, produce passports, photograph and admonish the lawyer to ensure his clients appear in court in the next sitting.
The court, however, adjourned till January 30, 2024, for trial and remanded the accused persons in the Port Harcourt Correctional Center, pending when they meet the bail conditions.