Cecilia Ibru Jailed, To Lose N191bn

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The trial of the former Chief Executive Officer and Managing  Director of Oceanic Bank Plc, Mrs. Cecilia Ibru, reached its climax on Friday, as she was sentenced to 18 months jail term by Justice Dan Abutu of  a Federal High Court in Lagos.
This was sequel to her decision to plead guilty to an amended three-counts charge of alleged abuse of office and mismanagement of depositors’ funds levelled against her by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC)
In his judgment, Justice Abutu also ordered that the former bank chief should forfeit properties and assets valued at N191 billion.
These properties included those in Nigeria, United States of America and Dubai in addition to shares in over 100 firms listed and not listed with the Nigeria Stock Exchange (NSE).
Investigations by the Saturday Tribune revealed that the development was due to a plea bargaining agreement between Mrs. Ibru and the EFCC.
It will be recalled that Mrs. Ibru was arraigned by the anti-graft agency at the court on the 31st of August, 2009 on a 25-count charge.
The charge was subsequently reduced to three by the commission.
During Friday’s proceedings, Justice Abutu ordered that Mrs. Ibru should be taken to Reddington Hospital, Victoria Island, Lagos, by the prison’s authority within two hour after they receive a copy of the judgment.
According to the judge, she is to remain in the hospital until she is certified fit to be remanded in prison custody.
Specifically, the anti-graft agency alleged in the amended charge that Ibru granted a credit facility in the sum of 20 million US dollars to Waves Project Limited which sum was above her credit approval limit as laid down by the bank.
She was also accused of failing to take all reasonable steps to ensure the correctness of Oceanic Bank monthly bank return to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) between October 2008 and May 2009.
Mrs Ibru was also accused of approving the granting of a credit facility in the sum of N2 billion by the bank to Petosan Farms Limited without adequate security as laid down by the regulations of Oceanic Bank, thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 15 of Failed Bank and Financial Malpractice in Bank Act.
Earlier on in the proceedings, counsel to the prosecution, Kola Awodein (SAN), informed the court that the commission had reached an agreement with the convict. He disclosed further that the formal agreement had also been filed before the court.
In his own submissions, counsel to the accused, Professor Taiwo Oshipitan (SAN), urged the court to consider the action of her client to see to the conclusion of the matter as soon as possible.
He posited that this was because of her love for the bank and urged the court to be lenient with her.
Speaking in Abuja on the judgment, Chairman of the EFCC, Mrs. Farida Waziri, commended the team that handled the investigation and prosecution of Ibru’s case, while charging every stakeholder in the war against graft in the country to reinforce their commitment so that there could be greater results soon.

“This is an indication that we are making progress in the war against graft in the country. But we can still achieve greater results when all stakeholders reinforce their commitment to the crusade,” she stated.
Source: Saturday Tribune

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