Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Court Acquits Teacher Accused Of Stealing $110,267 From Ex-Governor’s Wife

An Ikeja Special Offences Court on Monday acquitted a teacher, Ebele Mbanugo, charged with stealing $110,267 from a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) belonging to Onari Duke, wife of a former governor of Cross-River State.

The police charged Mr Mbanugo, who was a Vice Principal at the American International School Lagos (AISL), with defrauding the Child Survival and Development Organisation of Nigeria, Mrs Duke’s NGO, of the funds between 2009 and 2011.

Delivering judgment, Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo held that the prosecution failed to prove that Mrs Mbanugo stole the money.

The prosecution had accused the defendant of misappropriating the money raised for the purpose of purchasing mammogram machines for the detection of breast cancer.

She held that the criminal suit stemmed from a “serious and disruptive rivalry” between the defendant and Mrs Duke on the ownership of the fundraising initiative.

“The prosecution failed to prove that the money misappropriated belongs to Mrs Duke. Mrs Duke was not called to testify in this case.

“The testimony of the defendant showed how three mammogram machines were bought from General Electric for 133,000 dollars which is a sum higher than the sum allegedly misappropriated by the defendant.

“The prosecution failed to prove the source of the funds or that the defendant fraudulently converted it to her own use.

“The defendant had shown various brochures, pictures and documents highlighting her passion for fighting breast cancer as her mother and two aunts were diagnosed with the disease and she had said how early detection had saved her mother.

“It is unfortunate that such a laudable initiative could be marred by conflict between Mrs Duke and the defendant over ownership of the foundation,”

“The defendant is hereby discharged and acquitted and found not guilty of the three-count charge.”

Upon hearing the verdict, a visibly relieved Mrs Mbanugo burst into tears while profusely thanking the judge.