The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on Monday, February 10, 2014 arraigned one Dr. Chidi Barns Okpaluba and a Company, Quartermasters Limited before Justice L.B Lawal-Akapo of the Lagos High Court, Ikeja, on a 13-count charge bordering on obtaining money by false pretence, stealing and publication of false statements.
Okpaluba had in 2008 allegedly approached Prince Kalu Otisi to invest in his Company, Quartermasters Limited and offered him shares valued at N135, 000,000.00 by private placement. The volume of shares allotted to the new investor earned him a place on the board of the company and was subsequently named the chairman of the board of Quartermasters Group Limited.
Once on the board, Otisi gave a soft loan to the tune of N7, 000,000.00 (Seven Million Naira) to facilitate the running of the company. He also personally guaranteed a loan of N50, 000,000.00 (Fifty Million Naira) from First Bank of Nigeria Plc using his property situated at Aba, Abia State as collateral.
Trouble started when Otisi requested for his share certificate as evidence of shareholding in the company only to be informed that the company was yet to be registered at the Corporate Affairs Commission.
When the charges were read to the defendant, he pleaded not guilty. The first count reads: “Dr Chidi Barns Okpaluba and Quartermasters Limited between December 2008 and January 2009 in Lagos within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, with intent to defraud, obtained a total sum N131,923,823 (One Hundred and Thirty One Million, Nine Hundred and Twenty Three Thousand Eight Hundred and Twenty Three Naira ), from SouthGlobe Limited and Konex Associates, through Prince Kalu Otisi, by falsely pretending that Quartermaster Limited had N135,000,000 (One Hundred and Thirty Million Naira) ordinary shares for sale to interested members of the public at N1.80k per share, as private placement, out of which you sold seventy three million, two hundred and ninety One thousand and thirteen (73,291,013) shares to the said Prince Kalu Otisi for the amount obtained from him and you also further falsely pretended that the amount obtained as payment for the shares would be retained in Bank PHB (now Keystone Bank) pending the allotment of the shares to him”
In view of the plea of the accused, prosecuting counsel, E.A Jackson asked for a trial date and prayed the court to remand the defendant in prison custody. But the defence counsel, Ehiosu Odeh informed the court that he had filed an application for bail and served same to the prosecuting counsel. But Jackson opposed the bail application on the grounds that he was served at the court premises and would need time to peruse the document and respond appropriately.
Justice Lawal-Akapo adjourned the case to February 19, 2014 for argument on bail the application and ordered that the defendant be remanded in Ikoyi prison.