The Port Harcourt Zonal Command of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on Wednesday, May 25, 2023, arraigned one Ngozi Jonathan-Omo, managing director of Zeenel Concepts, before Justice B.O. Quadri of the Federal High Court sitting in Yenegoa, Bayelsa State on one count charge of conspiracy and diversion of public funds to the tune of N105, 000.000.
The offence is contrary to Section 1 (1) (a) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offence Act, 2006 and punishable under Section 1 (13) of the same Act.
The charge reads: “That you, Ngozichi Jonathan-Omo, Achievers Farm Nigeria Ltd, and Zeenel Concepts on or about 17th of October, 2018 at Yenegoa in Bayelsa State within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court with intent to defraud did obtain the sum of One Hundred and Five Million Naira (N105, 000.000) only from the office of the Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta and Coordinator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme under the pretext of executing a contract for the empowerment of one hundred Niger Delta youths on various farming activities at Achievers Farm, Bayelsa State, a pretence which to your knowledge was false and thereby committed an offence contrary Section 1(1)(a) of the Advance Fee Fraud and other Fraud Related Offence Act, 2006 and punishable under Section 1(13) of the same Act”.
The defendant pleaded not guilty to the charge when it was read to her. In view of her plea, prosecuting counsel, Ogbule Agala prayed to the court to fix a date for the commencement of trial and remand the defendant at the Correctional Centre.
Counsel to the defendant, Onengiofori .N. Ikiriko did not oppose the prayer by the prosecution but urged the court to grant his client bail to enable her to prepare for her trial. However, the court refused the verbal application and directed the defence to file a formal application for bail.
Justice Quadri ordered that the defendant be remanded at Okarki Correctional Centre, Yenegoa, Bayelsa State while the matter was adjourned to June 2, 2023, for hearing of bail application and commencement of trial.
The defendant’s trouble started when the Commission received a petition, alleging that, sometime in 2017, under the Presidential Amnesty Programme of the Federal Government of Nigeria, Achievers Farm Nigeria Limited was awarded a contract for the empowerment of one hundred (100) Niger Delta youths of Bayelsa State origin on various farming activities at a contract sum of Three Million, Five Hundred Thousand Naira (N3,500,000.00) per delegate, bringing the total contract sum to Three Hundred and Fifty Million Naira (N350,000,000.00).
The said contract covered refresher courses and the purchase of equipment, plots of land and starter packs for different farming activities for the beneficiaries. After receiving payments of about One Hundred and Seventy-Five Million (N175,000,000.00), the project coordinator and representative of Achievers Farm Nigeria Limited, Mrs Ngozichi Jonathan-Omo who is also a signatory to the company’s account, conducted only refresher courses for the ex-agitators/beneficiaries and abandoned the project. Investigation revealed that the defendant diverted the sum of One Hundred and Five Million Naira (N105, 000,000.00) into her company, Zeenel Concepts Limited’s account with a new generation bank, for personal use.