Oil company director, Epelle, docked, remanded for alleged N157m fraud
Justice P. I. Ajoku of the Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State on Wednesday February 1, 2023 remanded a Director of a Nigerian Gas Company, Charles Rudolf Epelle in the custody of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) pending the determination of his bail application.
The defendant was arraigned on a six count charge bordering on conspiracy, obtaining money by false pretence and issuance of dud cheques by the Port Harcourt Zonal Command of the EFCC. The alleged offence is contrary to section 1(1) (a) & (b) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act, 2006.
One of the counts reads, “That you, Charles Rudolf Epelle, Enene Esther Irabor (at large), on or about the 2nd of August, 2021 at Port Harcourt, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court did obtain the sum of Twenty-two Million, Eighty Thousand Naira (N22,080,000.00) from one Jeremiah Jumbo by false pretence under the guise of rendering catering services to International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Abuja, which pretext you knew to be false and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 1(1)(a) & (b) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act, 2006 and punishable under Section 1(3) of the same Act”.
Another count read: “That you, Charles Rudolf Epelle, Enene Esther Irabor (at large), on or about the 26th August, 2021 at Port Harcourt, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court did obtain the sum of One Hundred Million Naira (N100,000,000.00) from one Jeremiah Jumbo by false pretence under the guise of rendering catering services to International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC) and execution of contract awarded by the Nigerian Military in Abuja, which pretext you knew to be false and thereby committed an offence Contrary to Section 1(1)(a) & (b) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other fraud related offences Act 2006 and punishable under section 1(3) of the same Act”.
The defendant pleaded “not guilty” to all the charges preferred against him.
In view of his plea, prosecution counsel, K. W. Chukwuma-Eneh prayed the court to remand the defendant in a Correctional Facility and fix a date for commencement of trial.
Read also:EFCC arrests 19-year-old man for alleged $450,000 fraud
However, counsel to the defendant, I. A. Imabibo informed the court of the bail application of his client, which was opposed by the prosecution on the ground that he was only just served and needed time to respond.
Justice Ajoku consequently ordered that the defendant be remanded in the prosecution’s custody pending hearing and determination of his bail application.
The matter was adjourned till February 6, 2023 for hearing of bail application and April 26, 2023 for trial.
Epelle ran into trouble when the Commission received a petition alleging extortion under false pretenses, against him.
The petitioner alleged that, sometime in 2021, the defendant and his cohoot, Mrs. Enene Esther Irabor, Managing Director of Ehinomen Noble Links Limited, now at large, approached him that her company was awarded a contract by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and needed a financier. They promised to return the money on or before August 30, 2021. In order to convince the victim, they both issued him Cheques worth Eighty seven Million, Five Hundred Thousand Naira (N87, 500,000.00). BaseD on their agreement, the victim transferred a total sum of One Hundred and Ninety-two Million Naira (N192, 000,000.00) to the account of Charles Epelle, in tranches.
However efforts by the victim to recover the said sum were futile.
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