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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission EFCC, Port Harcourt Zonal Command, on Thursday, January 11, 2024, arraigned one  Joel Mba Okodi before the Imo State High Court sitting in Owerri, Imo State.

He was arraigned before Justice C.C. Okereke on an eight-count charge bordering on stealing and issuance of a dud cheque.

Count 8 of the charge reads: “That you Joel MBA Okodi on or about the 12th of September, 2019 at Orlu within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court fraudulently issued a First Bank Cheque No. 85621949 dated the 12th of September, 2019 for Ten Million Naira,  N10, 000.00 in favour of Pauly Merchandise Enterprises in partial fulfilment of your financial obligation to him of Fifty Million Naira, N50, 000, 000.00 only,  and when the said cheque was presented for payment, it was dishonoured due to insufficient funds standing to your credit. Issuing dishonoured cheques is contrary to Section 1(1) (a) and (b) (i) and (ii) of the Dishonoured Cheque (Offences) Act Cap D11 of the Revised Edition (Laws of the Federation) 2007.”

When the charges were read to the defendant, he pleaded ‘not guilty’ and given his plea, prosecuting counsel, M.T. Iko prayed the court for a trial date, which was not opposed by the defense counsel  N.N. Chukwuemeka.  He, however, prayed the court to grant the defendant bail.

Justice Okereke granted the defendant bail in the sum of N50, 000,000, Fifty Million Naira, and two sureties in like sum.  The two sureties must swear to an affidavit of means of livelihood and must own a landed property with a Certificate of Occupancy,   C of O.

Justice Okereke also asked the defendant to produce a three-year tax clearance for identification and thereafter adjourned the matter till February 29, and March 7, 2024, for the commencement of trial and hearing of bail application

He ordered that the defendant be remanded in prison custody pending fulfilment of his bail condition.

The defendant was arrested based on the claims of a petitioner alleging that sometime in 2018, Joel Mba (1st Defendant), his firm, Okosi Brown Enterprises Limited and Okodi Atta (currently at large), Effiong Peter (currently at large), Mohammed Shasi (currently at large), Geogry Edet (currently at large), and Anthony Bassey Etim (currently at large), presented themselves as representatives of the Akwa-Ibom state government.

According to him, the defendant and his co-accused approached him that they were authorized to sell a dilapidated Abestonic Industrial Scrap Company located at Oron Local Government Area on behalf of the state government, for N140, 000,000.00 (One Hundred and Forty Million Naira).

The petitioner allegedly made an initial deposit of N52, 000,000.00 (Fifty-two Million Naira) with a promise to make a balance payment of N88, 000,000.00 (Eighty-eight Million Naira) in two weeks. After the initial payment, he allegedly discovered that the said authorization by the state government to  Mba and his firm had been reversed.

Upon this discovery, the defendant allegedly issued a dishonoured cheque to the petitioner and further efforts made to recover the rest of the money proved abortive.

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