The Uyo Zonal office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on Tuesday, October 8, 2019, arraigned one Victor Saviour Uko before Justice Fatun Riman of the Federal High Court sitting in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, on one-count charge bordering on conspiracy, forgery and obtaining by false pretence to the tune of N900,000.00.
Uko ran into troubles when the Commission recieved a petition dated July 18, 2019, from Mfonobong SundayJim, alleging that sometime in December 2018, he was lured into purchasing a parcel of land situated at Ikot-Oku in Ikono village, Uyo, by the defendant and his accomplice namely; Daniel Udofia and two others, who are currently at large (Effiong Bassey Jackson and Otu Saviour Uko).
According to the petitioner, while the defendant presented himself as the owner of the said land, Udofia presented himself as the village head of Ikono village. Based on this assurance, Jim paid the said amount of money in cash to Uko and a signed power of attorney was issued to him.
The complainant realised he had been defrauded when he tried to develop the land but was stopped by a traditional injunction placed on the land by the community and was further informed that the land belonged to the community. Efforts made by the petitioner to get his money proved abortive.
The one-count charge reads; “That you Victor Saviour Uko “M” on or about the 19th day of December, 2018, at Ikot-Oku Ikono village, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court with intent to defraud did obtain the sum of N900,000.00 (Nine hundred thousand naira) only from Mfonobong Sunday Jim, which money was paid to you under the pretence that the money is a purchase price for a piece of land known as “Ikot Esa” behind QIC Primary School, Ikot-Oku Ikono village, Uyo Local Government Area, Akwa Ibom State and that you are a bonafide owner of the said land, a pretence 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.”
When the charge was read in English language and interpreted to him in Ibibio language, as he claimed to understand the later, the defendant pleaded “guilty” but the defence counsel, David Akpanofun, quickly objected to his plea and applied that the charge be read and re-interpreted to him.
His application was granted and Uko changed his initial plea of “guilty” to “not guilty”.
In view of his plea, Shehu Usman, the prosecution counsel, prayed the court for a trial date and for the defendant to be remanded in prison custody.
Akpanofun, who attempted to make an oral application for bail, was vehemently opposed by the prosecution on the grounds that he jumped the administrative bail earlier granted to the defendant by the Commission.
The matter was thereafter adjourned to Friday, October 11, 2019, for hearing of bail application and the defendant remanded in EFCC custody.
The defendant and Udofia were arrested on August 28, 2019. Uko later jumped bail and was re-arrested at Ikom Iman junction on October 4, 2019.