The Uyo Zonal office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on Thursday, March 26, 2020, arraigned the trio of Edwin Edet Etim, Joseph Essien Samuel and Moses Asuquo Effiong before Justice Agatha Okeke of the Federal High Court sitting in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.
They were arraigned on a two-count charge bordering on conspiracy and obtaining by false pretence to the tune of N6,000,000 (Six Million Naira).
The defendants ran into troubled waters on January 3, 2020, when the zone received a petition dated December 20, 2019, from one Dr Emmanuel Etuk, who alleged that he paid the said sum to Etim for a plot of land located at Shelter Afrique, Uyo, only for him to suddenly disappear and all efforts made to reach him proved abortive.
Acting on the petition, investigations revealed how the trio conspired amongst themselves to swindle the victim of the sum.
One of the counts reads: “That you Edwin Edet Etim (Alias Anietie Udofia Ekanem), Joseph Essien Samuel, Moses Asoquo Effiong (Alias Anietie Udofia Ekanem), sometime in November 2019 at Uyo, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, with intent to defraud did obtain a total sum of N6,000,000.00 (Six million naira) from Etuk Emmanuel Benjamin as payment for land at Shelter Afrique area of Uyo, Akwa Ibom State which pretext you knew to be false and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 1 (1) (a) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act 2006 and punishable under Section 1 (3) of the same Act.”
The defendants pleaded “not guilty” to the charge preferred against them.
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In view of their pleas, Adebayo Soares, the prosecution counsel, prayed for a trial date and for the defendants to be remanded in the custody of the Nigerian Correctional Service.
However, Jude Effiong, counsel for the second and third defendants (Samuel and Effiong), who also held brief for Edidion Ekong, the defence counsel for the first defendant (Etim), informed the court that a copy of the charge was served on him yesterday (March 25) and that he was not able to file a formal application for the bail of the defendants. He prayed the court to allow him to make an oral application for bail and it was granted.
However, after Effiong moved their bail applications orally, Soares opposed the applications on the grounds that the defendants acted with others who are at large and if bail is granted to them, they could tamper with ongoing investigations.
According to Soares, “The defendants masked their identity while committing the crime and the prosecution deployed professionalism to apprehend them.”
He further argued that “The shreds of evidence we have against them are weighty and it is enough for them to abscond if granted bail.”