Court frees banker of N855m fraud seven years after

Posted by News Express | 27 December 2019 | 1,024 times

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• Sunny Obazee
For seven years, Sunny Obazee, an investment banker, faced humiliation, rejection and prosecution for alleged N855 million fraud at the defunct Platinum and Habib Bank (PHB).

He joined the bank as a Divisional Director, Investment Banking, in December 2007.

Obazee was arraigned and tried by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) alongside Anayo Nwosu, Olajide Oshodi, Ashok Israni (an Indian businessman), Sunny Obazee, Keystone Bank and NULEC Industries Limited on 13 counts of conspiracy, fraudulent diversion, obtaining under false pretences and theft before Justice Kudirat Jose of the Lagos High Court, Igbosere in 2011.

But on December 9, Justice Jose discharged and acquitted Obazee in a judgment that sent Nwosu, Oshodi and Israni to five years in prison each on seven counts; a fine of N20million to the Federal Government against Keystone Bank and NULEC Industries on three counts, as well as restitution of N395million to the victim of the fraud, Chief Chukwudozie of Dozzy Oil and Gas.

For Obazee, the trial years were days of torture, emotional and psychological trauma, especially because the fraud he was accused of started at least two years before he joined the bank.

“The mental torture was great. At a point, I had to file a case of breach of human rights against the EFCC because they were harassing and intimidating me with calls and intermittent detention after we had been admitted to bail.

“I have a son and a daughter and both were studying in Canada. All of us, including my wife, were broken down emotionally. In fact, one day in 2015, I called my son and told him we would be going to court the following day and he told me that he was not feeling okay because he kept thinking about my ordeal.

“He said he could not move one of his legs and one arm. He was crying on the phone. He said he did not want to tell me about his situation so as not to compound my problem. I had to call my younger brother, a doctor in the United States, to help check on him.

 “The second day in court, I sat down weeping profusely and a woman lawyer in the EFCC team explained my situation to Rotimi Jacobs, the lead lawyer for the agency, who brought the matter to the attention of the court.

“The court magnanimously granted that I be allowed to go and see my son. Only God helped me not to lose a boy who was close to finishing his university education over a case I knew nothing about. I would have lost Edosa over nothing.

“I was denied promotion, sacked and my official car was collected. By virtue of my position, the bank ought to give me two cars and a generator every four years, but before the trouble started, they only gave me one car and a generator. They sacked me when I was still pursuing the matter and I wrote them on the need to reconcile what I needed to get from them or return to them.

“They said they were coming to take the car and the generator and I was not at home the day they came. They took away the car and said my dogs did not allow them to take the generator, only for them to later write that I was owing them N12 million for the generator.

“During the trial, a friend recommended me to a British firm coming to Nigeria and who needed an investment banker.

“I met the officials and we discussed and I told them that I had an issue with EFCC and that I was sure I would come out unscathed. They never got across to me again. The EFCC stamped me with an indelible mark,” he said.. (The Nation)


Source: News Express

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