The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) yesterday (Wednesday) began the trial of Mr. Vincent Usiahon, a Deputy Director with Nigeria Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC), over alleged oil business fraud.
Usiahon is facing a 29-count charge of intent to defraud and obtaining about N15.8 million under false pretenses from the complainant, Mr. Sonny Atumah.
He allegedly collected the monies in installments over 16 months by deceiving Atumah, his friend of over 25 years that he would invest them in oil allocation business.
The alleged offence is contrary to Section 1(1)(a) and punishable under Section 1(3) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Related Offences Act, 2006.
At the trial before Justice Abdul Kafarati of the Federal High Court, Abuja, yesterday, the Prosecution Counsel, Austin Emumejakpor called the first Prosecution Witness (PW1), Mrs. Lolade Longe.
Longe, an Assistant Detective Superintendent with the EFCC recalled that the agency on January 17, 2011, received a petition from Chris Nwonu, a legal practitioner.
“After receiving the petition, we wrote an invitation letter to the accused which he honoured. In honouring the interview, he volunteered a statement under caution. At a time he admitted that all he had been saying was a lie. He said he would like to discard it and tell the true story, and he did so.
“I countersigned the statement as a witness my lord after which I took him before a senior officer to endorse statement. He made an additional statement staing the existence of one Dave Agbai”, she told the court.
The matter has been adjourned till May 23 for continuation of trial.
Usiahon’s trouble began when a lawyer, Chris Nwonu petitioned the anti-graft agency.
Nwonu stated that “sometimes in or about May 2008, the suspect approached the petitioner with a proposal for international oil business with in which he was involved with some foreign partners whose identity he did not disclose to the petitioner. He painted a glossy picture of the business ….stressing the enormous profit to be made there from which will be denominated in U.S Dollars over a short period of time.
“For the period the petitioner was releasing these monies to the suspect, he was a constant guest in the petitioners’ home, staying sometimes as late as 12 a.m in the midnight, using the petitioner’s laptop to browse the Internet under the pretext that he was following up on the business through his partners overseas.
“The suspect sustained heist, giving false assurances and phony deadlines to the petitioner when he claimed the business will be sealed and his invested sum with the profit therein paid to him.
“With the onset of reality and truth, the petitioner started making frantic efforts to recall his money from the suspect but to no avail.