EFCC nails four persons in fake travellers’ cheque scandal
The Akwa Ibom State High Court in Uyo, has sentenced a 60-year-old man, Ita Michael Sampson to three years imprisonment for impersonation.
Sampson, a native of Odot, in Nsit Atai council was sentenced for claiming to be a staff of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
In a one-hour judgment delivered by Justice Okon Okon, Samson was found guilty of impersonation of public officer, an offence punishable with three years imprisonment, under Section 112 of the Criminal Code, Cap 38, Volume Two, Laws of Akwa Ibom State, 2000.
The Court held that, the convict, alongside a Police Corporal from Cross River State Command, had on July 29, 2010, went to First Bank of Nigeria, Etinan Branch and falsely presented themselves as officers of the EFCC and Department of State Services, investigating a petition from Abuja against the Bank Manager, Mr. Godwin Daniel.
Justice Okon said: “The convict is a miserable liar and a serial fraudster, that nemesis has caught up with and did not show remorse, but made efforts to cajole the court through his fairy tale of defence.”
Justice Okon further held that Sampson is not a decent member of the society and constitutes a danger to public safety.
The court said the convict should be kept away from public glare for sometime in the hope that, he would learn his lessons and change his negative behaviours.
MEANWHILE, a Forensic Document Examiner with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Bamairiga Haruna has told a Lagos Special Offences Court, Ikeja, that $10,000 dollars travellers cheque found in possession of a businessman, Mark Obisesan was a counterfeit.
Haruna disclosed this in his Evidence-in-Chief, led by Mr. Nkereuwem A. Anana, before Justice Serifat Solebo in an ongoing trial of Obisesan and three others; Olumide Macintosh, Bolaji Bakare and Goodluck Bazunu. He testified after the four men were re-arraigned over alleged conspiracy and forging of United States Travellers cheque.
The EFCC alleged that the defendants and one Josiah Ntekume, who is at large sometime in 2018, purchased and received forged United States Dollar Travelers cheque no. GA 908-981-567
However, all the defendants pleaded not guilty to 11-counts charge leveled against them. The forensic expert said, upon careful observation of the $10,000 travellers cheque, it was observed that the cheque lacks the statutory security features of a cheque.
Haruna explained that the traveller’s cheque was analysed with handheld magnifier, laser microscope, video comparator 8000 and ultraviolet light.
He stated that, upon completion of the analysis of the traveller’s cheque, all his findings were compiled in a report and forwarded to the head of operation for further investigation.
He further told court that his report was extensive enough such that it covered procedures of how currencies are produced. “I personally reached out to overseas criminal investigation embassy in Abuja,” he said.
Subsequently, the EFCC counsel presented the report to the witness to authenticate and after his affirmation, Anana tender the report, which was admitted in evidence.
However, under cross-examination by defence team, the Forensic Document Examiner said that $10,000 was issued by America Express, while the $100 dollars traveller cheque, which is genuine was issued by Mastercard.
He said that non-constant handlers of a traveller’s cheque cannot identify fake except he or she has previous knowledge. Earlier, a legal attache with Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Ayotunde Awoyeni in his testimony told the court that EFCC sent a letter to his office, requested their assistance to confirm the authenticity of all the 11 Traveller cheques.
Awoyeni said: “The 11 Traveller cheques was attached to the EFCC letter. All the letters were handed over to the Supervisory Special Agent, Alan Armstrong. Armstrong wrote an email to America Express, which is the authorisation centre.
“She later made phone call after a while, referred them to the earlier email sent. The officer at the other end checked the database to confirm that numbers were not genuine. The response was written down in the letter, the pictures were printed out and attached to the letter signed by Alan Armstrong on January 29,2020.
The witness was therefore cross-examined by the defence counsel, Chief Bolaji Ayorinde (SAN) and other counsel representing the other defendants.
The witness told court that FBI is not a Nigeria investigation authority but that the EFCC requested for its assistance.
He reiterated that the review conducted by FBI was that 11 Travellers Cheques were fake.
“The FBI relied on Aelex, an American Expert. That was why we contacted Aelex to confirm the genuineness of the total documents. The only role FBI played was to confirm the authenticity of the traveler’s cheques and not to investigate. EFCC did,” he said
Upon the completion of the witness testimonies, EFCC requested for an adjournment to present the last prosecution witness. His prayer was granted and the judge adjourned to May 30, 31 and June 1, 2022 for continuation of trial.