Saturday, May 18, 2024

$2.2m fraud: You’ve case to answer, court tells ex-NHIS boss

The Federal High Court in Lagos on Friday dismissed the no-case submission filed by a former Executive Secretary, National Health Insurance Scheme, Dr Femi Thomas, in response to the $2.2m fraud charges filed against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

The court, in a ruling by Justice Ayokunle Faji, said the prosecution had made out a prima facie case against Thomas, warranting him to offer an explanation.

The judge held, “The testimonies of the first prosecution witness suggests that the first defendant gave the sum of $2.198m to him to change into naira through his wife, as the evidence shows that the transactions in counts four and five of the charge sheet did not pass through a financial institution. More so, the amount involved is beyond N5m obtainable by law and I, therefore, hold that the defendant has a case to answer.”

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The judge fixed March 30 for Thomas to open his defence.

Thomas, a two-term Commissioner for Health in Ekiti State, is standing trial alongside one Kabiru Sidi, a Bureau De Change operator.

The EFCC alleged that Thomas conspired with his wife, Funmi, to make a cash payment of $2.2m to one Mr Ibitoye John Bamidele, at their House 20, Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Idi-Araba, Lagos.

Sidi was alleged to have lied to an EFCC investigator, Afeez Mustapha, that he was the owner of the $2.2m that Thomas and his wife transacted with.

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The EFCC prosecutor, Ekene Iheanacho, said the two defendants acted contrary to sections 18(2)(b), 1(a) and 39(2)(b)  of the EFCC (Establishment) Act 2004.

Iheanacho said they were liable to be punished under sections 16(2)(b) and 39 (2)(c) of the same Act.

But the defendants pleaded not guilty.

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