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Court of Appeal Upholds Conviction of Keystone Bank Officials in N855m Fraud Case

Court of Appeal Upholds Conviction of Keystone Bank Officials in N855m Fraud Case

The Court of Appeal sitting in Lagos has upheld the judgment of a Lagos State High Court, which sentenced two officials of Keystone Bank, Anayo Nwosu and Olajide Oshodi, to five years imprisonment over an N855 million fraud case. In a unanimous decision delivered by Justice Folasade Ojo, the appellate court affirmed the conviction of Nwosu and Oshodi, dismissing their appeals for lacking in merit.

The duo had appealed their conviction by Justice Kudirat Jose, arguing that their right to a fair hearing was breached due to the introduction of a further amended charge after the close of evidence. They also contended that the lower court exceeded its jurisdiction by imposing a sentence exceeding the maximum punishment prescribed by law. However, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) countered their arguments, stating that the amended charge was not challenged during the trial and that the sentence imposed was within the provisions of the law.

Justice Ojo, in delivering the judgment, affirmed that the trial court followed the proper procedure in amending the charge and found no merit in the appellants’ argument regarding the breach of their right to a fair hearing. She also noted that the amount involved in the charge exceeded one thousand naira and constituted criminal allegations under the Criminal Code Law of Lagos State.

The judge highlighted the evidence presented during the trial, including the initiation of bank drafts and payments made into various accounts linked to the fraud. She emphasized that the appellants induced the complainant into the fraudulent transaction, benefiting from commissions and engaging in activities that violated the law.

Ultimately, Justice Ojo concluded that the appeal lacked merit and affirmed the judgment of the lower court, thereby upholding the conviction and sentencing of Nwosu and Oshodi to five years imprisonment each on counts of stealing. The court also upheld the conviction of an Indian businessman, Ashok Israni, and his company NULEC Industries Limited, as well as the imposition of fines on NULEC Industries Limited and Keystone Bank Limited.

The judgment of the Court of Appeal marks a significant milestone in the fight against financial crimes and corruption in Nigeria. It sends a strong message that perpetrators of fraudulent activities will be held accountable for their actions and underscores the judiciary’s commitment to upholding the rule of law.

The case, which stemmed from allegations of conspiracy and obtaining money by false pretense, underscores the importance of due process and adherence to legal procedures in the prosecution of criminal offenses. It also highlights the collaborative efforts of law enforcement agencies, such as the EFCC, in investigating and prosecuting cases of financial misconduct.

As Nigeria continues its efforts to combat corruption and promote transparency in its financial sector, the decision of the Court of Appeal serves as a reminder of the consequences awaiting those who engage in fraudulent activities. It reaffirms the judiciary’s role as a pillar of justice and accountability in society, ensuring that justice is served and the integrity of the legal system is upheld.

This Article is Fact-Checked. See Policy.
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