A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has ordered the remand of a Ponzi scheme operator, Bamise Ajetunmobi, who fled the country in 2021, over an alleged N7.5 billion fraud.
Justice Chukwuejekwu Aneke made the order on Friday after Bamise was brought before him and arraigned on a 12-count charge made against him by the men of Force Criminal Investigation Department Force CID (Annex) Alagbon-Ikoyi, Lagos.
The defendant pleaded not guilty.
At the arraignment, the prosecution counsel, Morufu Animashaun, a legal officer in the Force CIID, annex, Alagbon-Ikoyi, told the court that the defendant conspired with his wife, Elizabeth, who is still at large, and their company, to lure victims with a fraudulent 10 percent return on investment.
Those allegedly defrauded by the defendant and the sums received from them include: Mr. Olawale Lawal from whom N1.5 billion was received, Mrs. Kate Omu from whom N500 million was received, Mr. Erhi Catherine Ojoboh from whom N2 billion was received, and Mr. Abioye Idris, from whom N3.5 billion was received.
The prosecutor told the court that the offences committed by the defendant contravened sections 8 (a), 1(a)(c) and 1 (2) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act, 2006 and were punishable under Section 1 (3) of the same Act.
He also told the court that the offences were contrary to section 383 of the Criminal Code Cap C38 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 and punishable under Section 390 (a) of the same.
The prosecutor also told the court that the charge against the defendant was filed in 2022, and when the defendant became elusive, the police secured a warrant of arrest from the court.
The defendant was arrested by the International Police (Interpol) in Cote D’Ivoire earlier this year.
Following an oral application by the police counsel, Justice Aneke struck out the name of the defendant’s wife from the charge, so the arraignment of Bamise could proceed.
Bamise, who was not represented by any lawyer in court, pleaded not guilty to the counts.
Following the defendant’s not-guilty plea, the prosecutor asked the court for a trial date.
He also urged the court to remand the defendant in the custody of the Nigerian Correctional Services (NCoS) till the determination of the charges against him.
Consequently, Justice Aneke ordered that the defendant be remanded at the Nigerian Correctional Service Centre, Ikoyi and adjourned the case till November 29, for trial.
In another fraud-related case, Justice Toyin Oyekan-Abdullahi in July 2022 gave a judgement in favour of 27 aggrieved Nigerian investors/claimants who were scammed by the Nigerian couple, Bamise and Elizabeth Ajetunmobi.
The couple allegedly fled the country after defrauding them of over N15.5bn.
Following news of Bamise’s arrest, Justice Oyekan-Abdullahi, days before retirement in February, made an order summoning the police to produce him in court.
The court made the order following an application by the lawyer to the creditors, Adetunji Adedoyin-Adeniyi, who filed an ex-parte motion under the relevant provisions of the Sheriffs and Civil Process Act, asking Justice Oyekan-Abdullahi to make an order for the Issuance of Judgement Summons to compel Bamise to appear before the court and be examined as to his means to pay back the judgement debt.
This did not however happen until Justice Oyekan-Abdullahi retired and the case was reassigned to Justice Rasul Olukolu.