The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on June 17, 2021 secured the conviction of Yinka Bello and Energy Fields Nigeria Limited before Justice K. N. Ogbonnaya of the Federal Capital Territory High Court, Abuja.
The conviction followed a change of plea by the defendants from “not guilty” to “guilty”, pursuant to a plea bargain agreement with the prosecution.
The defendants were first arraigned on March 29, 2021, for offences bordering on issuance of dud cheque, contrary to the Dishonored Cheques Offences Act Cap 102 laws of the Federation of Nigeria.
Upon arraignment, the defendants pleaded not guilty and the 1st defendant was ordered remanded in a Correctional Centre.
After three months, the defendants entered into a plea bargain negotiation with the prosecution, leading to the amendment of the charge.
At the resumed trial on Thursday June 17, the 1st defendant pleaded guilty to the amended charge.
The charge reads; “That you Energy Fields Nigeria Limited on or about the 31st day of October 2016 in Abuja within the jurisdiction of this honorable court with knowledge that you had insufficient funds in your account issued to Habul Nigeria Limited a UBA Bank cheque no. 057080099 dated 31st October 2016 in the sum of N10, 000,000.00 being refund of money advanced to you by Habiba Umar Bello. This said cheque when presented for payment within 3 months of issuance was dishonored due to insufficient funds standing to the credit of the account to cover the face value of the cheque and thereby committed an offence contrary to section 1(1)(a) of the Dishonored Cheques Offences Act Cap 102 laws of the Federation of Nigeria and Punishable under section 1(1)(b)(I)(II) of the same Act 2007.”
Based on his plea, the prosecuting counsel, Ijeabalum Diribe prayed the court to convict and sentence the defendant in line with the plea bargain agreement.
Justice Ogbonnaya consequently convicted and sentenced the 1st defendant to a fine of N500, 000.00 (Five Hundred Thousand Naira). He was also ordered to refund the victim, the cumulative sum of N10,000,000.00, being the value of the dishonored cheque.
The court also convicted and sentenced the 2nd defendant to a fine of N500, 000 (Five Hundred Naira).