The Federal High Court sitting in Lagos Friday remanded a suspected Ponzi scheme operator, Mr. Bamishe Ajetunmobi, wanted by the police since 2021, for an alleged N7.5 billion fraud.
Justice Chukwuejekwu Aneke ordered that Ajetunmobi be kept in the custody of the Nigerian Correctional Services (NCoS) pending the determination of charges filed by the police against him.
He adjourned till November 29, for commencement of trial.
The judge’s order followed the defendant’s arraignment on a 12-count charge by the Force Criminal Investigation Department (ForceCID Annex) Alagbon-Ikoyi, Lagos.
Ajetunmobi pleaded not guilty.
Prosecution counsel Mr. Morufu Animashaun of the FCID’s legal office told the court that the defendant committed the offence sometime in February 2021 in a conspiracy with his wife, Elizabeth Ajetunmobi, who is now at large, and their firm, Imagine Global Solutions Limited.
The couple, the court heard, allegedly defrauded Nigerian investors by, among others, luring them with a 10 per cent return on investment (ROI).
Those allegedly defrauded by the defendants and the sums received from them included Mr. Olawale Lawal, N1.5 billion; Mrs. Kate Omu, N500 million, Mr. Erhi Catherine Ojoboh, N2 billion, and Mr. Abioye Idris, N3.5 billion.
The prosecutor told the court that the offences contravened sections 8 (a), 1(a)(c) and 1 (2) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act, 2006 which were punishable under Section 1 (3) of the same Act.
He also said the offences contravened section 383 of the Criminal Code Cap C38, 2004 and were punishable under Section 390 (a) of the same Act.
Animashaun said the charge against the defendant was filed in 2022, but when the defendant became elusive, the police secured a warrant for his arrest.
He told the court that the defendant was arrested by the International Police (Interpol) from his hideout in the Ivory Coast, this year while trying to board a flight to The United Kingdom.
Animashaun, by an oral application, prayed the court to strike out the name of the defendant’s wife from the charge, so that the defendant’s arraignment could go on.
Justice Aneke granted his prayer, clearing the way for the charge to be read to Ajetunmobi.
The defendant was not represented by any lawyer.
In July 2022, the investors obtained a judgment in their favour from the Lagos High Court sitting in Osborne, Ikoyi, ordering the couple and their firms to pay back N15,541,350,000 with interest.
But the couple could not be found and the court was told that they had fled the country.