By G9ija

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Wednesday opened its case against Ecobank Plc and one of its employees Anieka Udoh at the Federal High Court in Lagos.

It accused the bank and Udoh of “negligently” failing to exercise due diligence in relation to conduct of financial transactions with Major-General Umaru Mohammed.

The prosecution called its first witness, Jones Oboh, in the alleged $50,000 and N9.2million fraud case.

The commission said the defendants fraudulently converted the army chief’s Ecobank MasterCard account numbered 0015052989 from debit card to credit card.

It said they debited the account of over USD 50,000 “without the knowledge and authority of Major-General Umaru Mohammed.”

Oboh, a former Loan Recovery and Collection Officer with the bank, said the bank operated the account for five years without the customer’s knowledge.

Led in evidence by prosecution counsel Bilikisu Buhari, the witness said it reflected on his system that Mohammed owed the bank N9.2million.

“After checking the records of those owing the bank, I discovered that Mohammed was one of those granted loans by Ecobank Plc.

“Sometime in March 2018, I called Mohammed on the phone to find out when he was going to pay back his loan.

“But to my surprise, he said he did not owe the bank and that there was no time he applied for any form of loan from the bank. Thereafter, a meeting was set up between the bank and Mohammed through me.

“It was in the meeting that Mohammed was told that his account was in the debit of N9.2million, showing that he utilized his Master Credit Card over a period of time.

“Mohammed informed the bank that there was no time he applied for a Master Credit Card from Ecobank and that the only transaction he had with the bank was that he applied to open a domiciliary account in which a debit card was issued to him so as to use it whenever he travels out of the country,” Oboh said.

The witness said found out that in April 2013, the sum of $38,725 was recorded against the complainant.

“In July 2014, a reversal of $32,887 was made on the account of Mohammed, leaving a debit of $6,125 in 2014.

“Afterwards, the bank opened a naira account in Mohammed’s name without his knowledge and dollars were converted to N261 to a dollar from his domiciliary account, leaving a debit balance of N3.1million on the Naira account.”

The witness said the bank never wrote or invited the complainant to bring to his notice all the “eventualities” on his accounts for five years until he took a step to do that.

“The bank left the account to grow in debit from N3.1million to N9.2million without informing the account owner.

“The second defendant, Anieka Udoh, was the account officer of the complainant,” the witness said.

Justice Saliu Saidu adjourned until April 18 for continuation of trial.

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