The police have arrested a United States of America (USA)-based businessman, Uzoukwu George, for allegedly obtaining N7 million from a couple under false pretence. The police alleged that George, from Imo State, but resides at No. 22 Ogunlana Street, Aguda, Surulere, Lagos was arrested while he was trying to flee to the US. George, 31, was accused of obtaining the N7m from his business partners, Mr and Mrs Joachim Ezirim, on the pretense of forming a joint venture business with them.
The police said after collecting the sum, George left for the US, and remained there for some time while the couple were searching for him in Nigeria. “The suspect sneaked into Nigeria, sold all his property and was about to leave the country with his family when he was arrested by detectives of the Area ‘A’ Command Lion Building, Lagos,” a police source told The Nation.
George was arraigned on Tuesday before Mrs Abimbola Komolafe of the Lagos Magistrates’ Court in Igbosere, on a three-count charge of conspiracy, obtaining by false pretence, conversion and issuance of dud cheques.
Prosecuting Inspector Abass Abayomi told the court that George and others at large conspired to commit the alleged offences sometime between 2011 and 2014 at No. 6, Bamgbose Street, Lagos Island.
He said the defendant “obtained the sum of N7m from the couple on the pretence to form a joint venture business with them but converted same to his personal use.”
“George issued post-dated FCMB cheques No. 03002064 and 03002066 in the sum of N1 million and N2.5 million to Joachim Ezirim for the refund of the money invested in the business, knowing full well that there was no money in the account and the cheques were rejected on presentation,” the prosecutor said.
The offence, he added, were punishable under Sections 409, 312 and 319 (b) of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2011.
The defendant denied the charge, and his lawyer, Chief M. C. Ikwunoh, urged the court to grant him bail in liberal terms. “The defendant was granted administrative bail by the police and he did not abscond. He came to court voluntarily,” Ikwunoh said.
This was opposed by the prosecutor on the grounds that the defendant had already concluded plans to leave Nigeria. “He is currently based in the United States of America and it was very difficult for the police to get him arrested,” Abayomi said.
In a bench ruling, Magistrate Komolafe granted the defendant N5 million bail with two sureties in the like sum, who must be gainfully employed and one of whom must be a blood relation. They were also ordered to make a deposit of N250,000 to the court registrar’s account while the defendant must deposit his international passport in the court’s custody.
The case was adjourned till September 27, for mention.