Tuesday 14 May 2019

First Bank Vs Dispatch Rider: N355 Million Fraud Scandal

A dispatch rider at Institutional Banking Group (IBG), a department of First Bank, Iganmu branch working as a contract staff from Sandy Management Consultants LTD may have found himself between the devil and the deep blue sea as he cries out for his dear life after realizing that he might be used as a scapegoat in a case of alleged insider fraud involving some staff of the bank.

According to Humphrey Darlington Omeli, a Dispatch rider who hails from Ezeagu Local Government Area in Enugu State, who formerly resides at 2 Anjorin Close, Market, Okokomiako, Ojo Lagos State, he resumed work as usual on the 25th of September 2013 at about 8:00 am, while he was still having his breakfast with piles of document from previous day’s work waiting to be dispatched, the relationship Manager in-charge of a customer account known as “Olam Nigeria Limited”, Mr Abimbola Jaiyesime summoned him with instruction to quickly dispatch some documents as top priority while he went on to entertain one Mr Mike, A staff of Olam Nigeria Limited that same morning.

According to an online news platform, SecretReporters, amongst the documents from the individuals to be dispatched by Humphrey were, a Risk Assessment document, a Bid document, and four (4) Fund Transfer Instruction forms which originated from Olam Nigeria Limited and endorsed with IBG department’s stamp, signed by Abimbola. 

The four (4) forms which were minuted to the Operations Manager to treat were reportedly for the transfer of N355 million Naira to four different corporate accounts and had official signatures properly executed on each of the transfers with the company’s original letter headed papers. In line with procedures, Humphrey made photocopies of all the documents and submitted same to the operations secretary who in turn acknowledged receipt before he set out to dispatch the original documents to its various destinations which included, the head office Marina, Flourmills Apapa, Golden Sugar Tincan First gate, 7up Bottling company Ijora, and finally NBC Iddo when he was quickly called and summoned back to the office by the duo of Abimbola and Mrs Kelechi Ogbueyi who contacted him in quick succession via his mobile phone.

A return to the office at about 2:50 pm saw him been quizzed by Mrs Kelechi on how he came across the dispatch forms, subsequently he was directed to report at the IBG head office where he had to wait till about 6.00pm after he was informed by the secretary, Mrs Felicia that the management was engrossed in a meeting.To his uttermost surprise, Mr Abimbola emerged from the IBG board room and whisked him aside while flooding him with questions concerning the transfer forms. 

Mr Abimbola also instructed him to admit submitting the four (4) Fund Transfer Forms in error if he was to be questioned about it by anyone. A demand for an explanation met brick walls as he was told not to ask any question but “Just admit submitting the forms in error and all will be well”. N87M Fund Transfer Instruction forms from Olam Nigeria Limited N88M Fund Transfer Instruction forms from Olam Nigeria Limited N80M Fund Transfer Instruction forms from Olam Nigeria Limited N100M Fund Transfer Instruction forms from Olam Nigeria Limited Sensing danger and a possible attempt to conceal their nefarious act upon him, he insisted to explain the whole fact, an action which did not go down well with a visibly angry Abimbola. 

Mrs Mojisola also tried to persuade him to submit to Abimbola’s earlier instructions which he bluntly refused to do, with no questions as to his own side of the story from any ranking staff in the company he was asked to make a written statement at the security department, only then did he realize that a fraud of N355 million was perpetrated with the four (4) transfer forms.According to SecretReporters, he was later smuggled downstairs by one of the security chiefs, Mr Abidemi and thereafter whisked away to the Lion building Police State where he spent the night over an allegation he allegedly knew nothing about.According to the victim, Humphrey Omeli, after being detained for three days in the police station and the alleged continuous refusal by the bank to allow the police carry out a proper investigation on the alleged case, the Investigative Police Officer (IPO) Elegbede requested he contacted his relatives to initiate his bail process.Since one of his relations Mr Cletus Okorie agreed to stand in for his bail but eventually arrived late, the IPO had no other option than to release him while persuading the security personnel who brought him to the station,Mr. Abidemi to sign for his bail bond without charges as there were no justifications for the continued detention.Mr Abidemi went further to plead with the IPO to retain his phones (a Blackberry bold 5 and a Nokia 3310 handset) till the next Monday so that he could come for the phones if there was no matter arising that requires his attention, a request the IPO obliged.However, Mr Abidemi who surprisingly appeared to be part of the coup innocently appealed to him to wait while he informed superiors at the office about the signing of the bail bond to avoid losing his job. 

Unaware of the strategic arrangements currently in place against him, a First Bank security van with a spy police officer, armed mobile officer, and Mr Okon all from the security department pulled up. Mr Abidemi requested he joined them in the van to the head office as proof that truly he has been released of which he obliged. Humphrey disclosed that while in the van purportedly en route to the head office, the deliberate threats and severe torture by the First Bank Security personnel who failed to explain to him where they were taking him to when he suspiciously inquired led to a dramatic scene, as his continuous shouting and frantic struggle attracted passers-by who quickly intervened, of note, was one Mr Chuks Ikedigwe who took keen interest in him because of his occasional screaming in his local dialect Igbo.

At this point, sensing that the situation might escalate Mr Abidemi in a bid to conceal his plans, reportedly told the road users who intervened that they were taking him to Ikoyi Police station. At the Ikoyi police station, the police officers who were presumably not aware of the case also allegedly tortured him based on the allegation levelled against him by the First Bank security officials who falsely disclosed to the officers on duty that he allegedly defrauded the bank of 355 million.On 30th September while Humphrey was still in detention at the Ikoyi Police station, a visit by the Relationship Manager in charge of the account of Olam Nigeria limited, Mr. Abimbola who presented the four transfer forms to the new IPO, Mr Bashiru led to the IPO apologizing to the victim for such an act of cruelty and promised to carry out a transparent investigation to unveil the perpetrators of the crime with all the information contained in the forms. On hearing that Mr Abimbola flared up and interrupted the officer by insisting that Humphrey should admit to the crime stating clearly that the IPO should desist from initiating any form of investigation on that case.

To further prove that the victim was innocent going by the books, the new IPO visited the residence of the accused at No. 2 Anjorin Street, Okokomiako, Ojo, searching and ransacking the apartment to ensure he was not having anything incriminating. After a thorough search, the Ikoyi Police station prepared a report exonerating him from any complicity in the alleged fraud. 

The police subsequently invited Mr Okon from the first Bank security department who jointly signed the report alongside the IPO. Evidence of the report according to Humphrey is in the possession of the IPO and DPO of the Ikoyi police station. Notwithstanding, on 04/10/2013 he was arraigned at the senior magistrate court II, Tinubu Magistrate Court before Mrs A.T. Omoyele on a three-count charge of conspiracy, stealing and forgery of which he pleaded not guilty.

The court also went ahead to impose onerous bail terms on him purportedly due to the high amount alleged that he stole. Sadly, it took him till 18th November 2013 to perfect his bail as he was remanded at the Ikoyi prisons till he was able to dispose of his properties just to meet his bail condition.

Speaking in a recent interview, Omeli said; "I spoke with some lawyers and one of them who decided to take up the matter said we should start from pursuing fundamental human rights abuse. He wrote a letter to First Bank requesting for help for me to go to the hospital, but they declined.

“After that, we went to court. On February 1, 2016, Justice Animashaun of Igbosere High Court, Lagos ruled and Mr. Abimbola, Mrs Mojisola were held responsible by the court for illegal detention and N17.7million was awarded against them, while N500,000 was awarded against the Police station at Ikoyi. At the end of the day, they refused to pay that money and Abimbola and Mojisola went to the Appeal Court.

"On the 4th of December, 2017, the Appeal Court in Lagos dismissed the appeal with extra N100,000 as cost. When it was dismissed, they refused to pay and sent me notice of appeal to the Supreme Court. 

“At this moment, I have been running up and down and I have written a petition to the Legal Aid Council of Ministry of Justice in Lagos. Presently, we are at the Supreme Court for fundamental human rights abuse. Now my lawyer sent a motion for dismissal because they are not doing what they are supposed to do."

Politics Nigeria reached out to the Bank for a comment on the matter. The bank's head of marketing, Mrs. Folake Ani-Mumuney replied that the case was in court.

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