The Uyo Zonal Office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), on Tuesday, November 17, 2020, arraigned one Austin Christopher Essiet before Justice Agatha Okeke of the Federal High Court, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State for fraudulent Point of Sale withdrawals.
He was arraigned on a two-count charge bordering on stealing to the tune of N150,000 only.
One of the charges read, “That you, Austin Christopher Essiet (“M”) on or about the 18th day of August, 2020, in Uyo, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, with the intent to defraud, did induce Mr. John Etim a Point of Sale terminal (PoS) operator to confer a benefit on you in the sum of N150,000 under the false pretence that the account to be debited belonged to you and which pretext you knew to be false and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 1 (2) of the Advance Fee Fraud Act, 2006 and punishable under Section 1 (3) of the same Act.”
He pleaded not guilty to the charge, following which prosecution counsel, Agbo S. Abuh, prayed the court for a trial date and for the defendant to be remanded in the custody of Nigeria Correctional Service (NCS).
Defence counsel, G. N. Ezugwu made no bail application for the defendant.
The matter was adjourned till November 27, 2020, for filing and hearing of the defendant’s bail application while the defendant was remanded in the custody of NCS.
Essiet’s journey to the dock began on October 20, 2020, when the Commission received a petition from one John Etim, a Point of Sale (POS) operator, who alleged that he effected cash withdrawals for the defendant in his shop, located at Ifa, Oron Road, Uyo from different accounts, up to the tune of N150,000 and that he suspected fraud after the withdrawals and confronted the defendant on the ownership of the accounts, but that he assured him that they all belonged to him.
Few minutes after the defendant left, he disclosed that his PoS account was frozen by his bank, following reports of fraudulent withdrawals by the account owners. He further alleged that the bank forced him to refund the total of N150,000 the defendant withdrew from the account owners.
Fortunately for the petitioner, the defendant showed up again on October 19, 2020, to carry out a similar pattern of transaction, but was arrested by EFCC officers, who had been on the hunt for him.