By PAUL MICHAEL
The trial of one Bolarinwa Abiodun, a self-professed Army General on a 13-count charge bordering on possession of forged documents and obtaining money by false pretence of N266,500,000 continues before Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo of the Special Offences Court sitting in Ikeja, Lagos.
The court admitted more evidence against him through the fourth witness of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). The defendant, whose bail was on April 25, 2022, refused by the court as he was ruled to constitute a flight risk, is being prosecuted by the Lagos Zonal Command of the EFCC on offences contrary to Section 1 (3) of the Advance Fee Fraud and other Related Offences Act 2006; Section 363 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State 2015 and Section 6 of the Advance Fee Fraud and other Related Offences Act No 14 of 2006, respectively.
He was first arraigned on April 11, 2022, and he pleaded “not guilty” to all the charges. One of the counts reads: “Bolarinwa Oluwasegun Abiodun, between 15th June 2020 and 31st December 2020 in Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, with intent to defraud and whilst holding yourself out as a General in the Nigerian Army, obtained the sum of N111,400,000 from Kodef Clearing Resources Limited, under the pretence that the sum represented part of the amount expended to “press and process” your incoming appointment by the President and Commander-inChief of the Armed Forces, as the CHIEF OF ARMY STAFF of the Nigerian Army, which pretence you knew to be false.”
Another count reads: “Bolarinwa Oluwasegun Abiodun, sometime in May 2020 in Lagos within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, knowingly forged LETTER OF APPOINTMENT AS CHIEF OF ARMY STAFF dated 20th May 2020 and purported the said document to have emanated from the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which document you know to be false.”
Testifying as the fourth prosecution witness, Buhari Bello Kobi, an operative of the EFCC involved in the investigation, narrated how the EFCC had received a petition against the defendant who, in the guise of being an Army General, allegedly defrauded his victim of N266,500,000.
Led in evidence by the prosecuting counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, he told the Court that the EFCC received the petition sometime in November 2021 and that the investigating team immediately swung into action by carrying out surveillance activities, which led to the arrest of the defendant on January 12, 2022.
He said, “Attached to the petition was a letter (purportedly) signed by President Muhammadu Buhari addressed to the defendant for the appointment, the Certificate of Confirmation as the incoming Chief of Army Staff as well as the invitation for inauguration as the COAS all sent to the petitioner via WhatsApp.
“We further gathered intelligence through surveillance. And on 12th January, 2022, the suspect was arrested at his residence at Alagbado, Lagos. “In the course of the search, several items were recovered from his house, including six pump action guns, three cartridge bullets, a swagger stick, a military ID card with the passport photo of the defendant and his name as General Bolarinwa, several forged documents and several photographs of him in the military uniform.”
According to him, four vehicles were also recovered from his house, including one Hilux, one Range Rover, one Land Cruiser and one other vehicle with OBJ1 as its number plate.
He also told the court that the investigating team wrote to relevant authorities, including the State House and the Defence Headquarters to ascertain the genuineness of the documents.
He added that letters of investigation activities were also written to First Bank of Nigeria Plc, where the account of the defendant was domiciled, as well as Zenith Bank and UBA, where the accounts of the victim were domiciled.
He thereafter confirmed Exhibit A, which was already before the Court as the petition, and identified the responses received from First Bank, UBA and Zenith Bank, which were already before the Court, as exhibits. He also identified the letter of investigation activities written to the Chief of Defence, the Chief of Army Staff, the State House as well as their responses.
When the prosecution sought to tender the documents in evidence against the defendant, there was no objection by the defence counsel, Kayode Lawal.