By Innocent Anaba
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on Monday, arraigned two bureau de change operators before a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, for allegedly laundering $1.6 million, said to be proceeds of smuggling.
The defendants. Chris Ogbonna, Sulaiman Jibbo, were arraigned alongside two firms— Kur and Sule Nigeria Enterprises and Sunchrist Trans Nigeria Limited, on five counts before Justice Ayokunle Faji.
The anti-graft agency said they ought to have reasonably known that the $1.6 million, which they allegedly removed from jurisdiction sometime in 2017, “formed parts of proceeds of unlawful activity, to wit: smuggling.”
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Ogbonna and Sunchrist Trans Nigeria Limited were also accused of transferring a total of N607.2 million, being proceeds of smuggling, to Kur and Sule Enterprises.
Jibbo, on his part, was accused of making a cash payment of $52,287 to one Fredrick, “which sum exceeded the amount authorised by law.”
The prosecuting counsel for the EFCC, Kufre Uduak, told the court that the defendants acted contrary to sections 18(c), 15(2), 1(a), and 16(1) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 and they were liable to punishment under sections 15(3) and 16(2)(b) of the same law.
The defendants, however, pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Following a bail application by their counsel, Chuks Nwana, Justice Faji admitted each of them to bail in the sum of N10 million with two sureties in like sum.
Among other conditions, the judge barred the defendants from travelling outside the country, with an order that the EFCC should notify the Nigeria Immigration Service about them.
The judge gave them 10 days to meet the bail conditions, failing which they would be remanded in the custody of the Nigerian Correctional Services.
He adjourned till July 10 for report of compliance with the bail conditions.