The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Lagos Zonal Office, has secured the conviction and sentence of one Olaniyi Zaccheus, a former account officer of the Staff Cooperative Thrift and Credit Society of the College of Medicine, Idi-Araba, Lagos State for N4million fraud. The conviction and sentence were done through virtual proceedings.
Zaccheus, alongside one Seyi Agbekuyide, a former treasurer of the Credit Society who later became its Vice President, were arraigned on May 6, 2015 on 13-count amended charges bordering on conspiracy to steal, stealing, and conspiracy to commit felony and forgery. The Commission received a petition by the executive of the Society alleging fraudulent withdrawals from its account with Union Bank of Nigeria, Idi-Araba branch, amounting to about N1.5million.
Subsequently, investigations into the petition were carried out by the Commission, which unearthed several suspicious withdrawals from the said account amounting to about N4.5million, with investigators nailing Zaccheus and Agbekuyide. Zaccheus had claimed that he carried out withdrawals from the account on the instruction of Agbekuyide. Upon arraignment, they pleaded “not guilty” to the charges, prompting a full- blown trial. Abba Mohammed, the prosecuting counsel, told the Court that the defendants had forged the signature of the former president of the Credit Society, Omolara Jimoh, to withdraw the money at various times between August 2007 and April 2009.
To prove its case, the prosecution called four witnesses, and tendered several oral and documentary evidence. In the course of the trial, Zaccheus jumped bail, and was later arrested and remanded in prison pending the conclusion of his trial. As the prosecution closed its case on November 22, 2016, the defendants filed a “no-case” submission, which was afterwards dismissed by the court for lacking in merit, and they were ordered to enter their defence.
Delivering judgment on July 1, 2020 during a virtual hearing , Justice Ipaye discharged and acquitted Agbekuyide, who was present in the courtroom, of the offences brought against him. The trial judge, however, found Zaccheus, who made an online appearance from the Nigerian Correctional Facility, Kirikiri, guilty on counts two, three, four, six, and seven bordering on stealing.
The court sentenced him to three years imprisonment on each count. The Judge discharged him on counts one and five bordering on conspiracy to steal, and counts eight, nine, 10, 11, 12 and 13 bordering on conspiracy to commit felony and forgery. The sentences are to run concurrently from the day he was taken into custody.