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Court okays EFCC probe of ‘N141m shares fraud’

A Federal High Court in Lagos has okayed the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC)’s investigation of an alleged N141 million private share allotment fraud involving Industrial and General Insurance Plc (IGI).

Justice Tijjani Ringim dismissed IGI’s suit seeking to stop the probe, adding that EFCC has power under the law to investigate public fraud and financial crimes in the security exchange sector.

IGI filed the suit marked FHC/L/CS/889/2021 against the EFCC; its Lagos Zonal Head Ahmed Ghali and six others.

The others are Team B lead, Capital Market and Insurance Fraud (CMIF) unit Ronke Idayat Suleiman; Osom Properties Ltd; Royal Descent Ltd; Frososom Nigeria Ltd; Ilekhuoba Osaretin and Fando Construction Ltd.

The firm prayed the court to, among others, declare that 1st to 3rd defendants lack the powers to question “purely civil commercial transaction” between it and the 4th to 8th defendants.

It sought a perpetual injunction, restraining them from further summoning or demanding from it or any of its directors any information relating to the transaction, and N50 million as damages as well as the cost of the action.

But dismissing the application, Justice Ringim held: “…It also appeared to me that the petition of the 4th to 8th defendants to the 1st defendant cried for public fraud. This seemed to have been investigated with alerts of use of subscribers’ funds, by the plaintiff to purchase real properties at the expense of their shares not being listed on the floor of the Stock Exchange.

“It, then, dawned on me that if such allegations of fraud could be investigated and found to be true, the 1st to 3rd defendants would be justified into committing resources to curb such a seemingly financial crime in the security exchange sector.”

In dismissing the plaintiff’s prayers, Justice Ringim held that he did not see the infringement or the threat to infringe on its fundamental rights beyond being invited by the 1st to 3rd defendants such as to conclude investigation to which progress was being made.

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