For failing to appear before the court and becoming elusive, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC has arrested a chieftain of the All Progressive Congress (APC), Chief Benjamin Benedict Apugo for N36m land scam at his village, Nkata Ibeku, in Abia State.
His arrest on Friday September 30, 2016 was sequel to a July 4, 2016 warrant issued to that effect by a Federal High Court in Umuahia presided over by Justice D.E. Osiagor after the accused failed to appear before the court to take his plea on a three count charge bordering on obtaining money by false pretense brought against him by the EFCC.
He was alleged to have fraudulently sold six plots of land valued at N36million belonging to the Nigeria Railway Cooperation located at Umunwulari Nkata Ibeku layout, Planning Scheme Umuahia. A previous warrant was issued for the arrest of the defendant on October 8, 2015 by Justice F.A. Olubanjo after he had failed to appear before the court on same charge.
Even though the politician had earlier been invited by the Commission where he made statement under caution and was released on administrative bail, he had since then become elusive. He had however through his counsel, Professor Earnest Ojukwu, SAN tried to frustrate the case on three previous instances either by applying for the quashing or the transfer of the case to another judge.
After, Justice Olubanjo was transferred and Justice Evelyn Anyadike took over the matter, Ojukwu (SAN) moved a motion to quash the charge and set aside the bench warrant which was refused prompting him to petition the Chief Judge stating that the defendant has no confidence in the judge. Based on the petition, the Chief Judge transferred the case to the present judge, Justice Osiagor who heard the two applications and in a considered ruling, dismissed application to quash the charge and suspended the bench warrant.
He however ordered the defendant to appear before him pursuant to Section 87 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015 on the next adjourned date of July 4,2016, an appointment which for the umpteenth time, the APC chieftain failed to honour necessitating the latest arrest warrant to produce him in court on Wednesday October 11,2016. One of the charges against the defendant reads:
“That you Prince Benedict Benjamin Apugo on or about the 7th day of March 2013 in Umuahia within the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court of Nigeria with intent to defraud obtained the sum of N6 million from one Mr Obioma Nehemiah Isiuwa, when you falsely represented yourself through his agent, Mrs. Adline Victor Nkwo, to be the owner of six plots of land valued at N36 million located at the House of Assembly Road by Ochendo By-Pass in Umunwulari Nkata Ibeku layout, Umuahia, Umuahia -North Local Government Area, Abia State otherwise called Ogurube layout, which pretence you knew to be false and thereby committed an offence contrary to section 1 (1)(b) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Related Offences Act, 2006 and punishable under section 1 (3) of the same Act, ”according to statement signed by EFCC’s Head, Media & Publicity, Wilson Uwujaren.