N60B Bank Fraud: Group Asks EFCC To Revisit Echocho’s Case

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A civil society group, Forum for Zero Tolerance to Financial Crimes, on Wednesday in Abuja called on the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Mr. Ibrahim Lamorde, to reconsider the decision of the commission to discontinue the prosecution of one of the former directors of Afribank, Mr. Jilbrin Isah Echocho in the N60 billion fraud in the bank.

Echocho was a former director of Afribank who won the January 2011 governorship primary election in Kogi state.

In a letter to the EFCC boss by the group’s lawyer, Mr. Kayode Ajulo, the group stated that it was against public interest for the anti-graft agency to withdraw charges against Isah who was the Executive Director, Investment Banking when all the alleged fraudulent dealings that led to the demise of the bank took place.

Last year, the EFCC filed various charges against the directors of the then Afribank at both the Federal High Court Lagos and the Lagos State High Court sitting at Ikeja.

The affected directors of the bank are: the then Managing Director, Mr. Sebastine Adigwe, the Chairman, Chief Osa Sounde, Mr. Jilbrin Isah, Mr. Isa Zailani, Mr. Chinedu Onyia, Mr. Henry Arogundade and Mr. Peter Ololo, all Executive Directors of the bank.

The former leadership of the anti-graft agency headed by Mrs. Farida Waziri, suddenly reversed itself and withdrew charges against Isah under the pretext that he was going to be used as a prosecution witness.

This move ostensibly cleared the way for the former director to go and contest for the office of the governor of Kogi State.

Represented by Mr. Gbolahan Peters and Alhaji Ahmed O. Ibrahim at the press briefing, the group said that they were afraid that justice would not be done unless Isah was brought to justice.

They based their suspicion that EFCC was shielding Isah on the grounds that during the suspect’s initial criminal trial at Federal High Court, Lagos, in 2009, the suspect, though was charged as co-accused was never brought before the court but was busy campaigning to become Peoples Democratic Party flag bearer in Kogi State, while EFCC under the leadership of Waziri maintained that the suspect was nowhere to be found.

They also argued that instances abound in the trial where other accused had queried EFCC’s decision to make Isah, a witness instead of a co-accused considering the enormity of his indictments.

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