The third prosecution witness of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Gabriel Okara, has told Justice Mojisola Dada of the Special Offences Court sitting in Ikeja, Lagos State, how a United Kingdom ex-convict, one Ahmed Soetan Adebola, defrauded Raddison Blu Hotel of the sum of N4,449,633.12.
Okara, an investigator with the anti-graft agency, gave the narrated to the court on Monday at the resumed trial, how the Commission received a petition from Radisson Blu Hotel about the defendant, whom he identified in the dock.
Led in evidence by the prosecution counsel, Ahmed Yerima, Okara identified the petition from the hotel and the statements made by the defendant while in the custody of the EFCC, which were already before the court as exhibits P and P5 to P6.
He told the court, “The Commission received a report from RADISSON BLU Hotel sometime in December 2020 alleging that the defendant who had lodged in their facility, off and on, made payments through credit cards, American Express in favour of the hotel and that these payments were recalled by the unified payment system.
“Based on the information, between 15th and 16th day of December 2020, the defendant checked into the hotel again. Based on the allegation against him earlier, he was arrested.
“A search was conducted on him and nine different credit cards, bearing different names, were recovered from him, six out of the nine were American Express.
“Two UK drivers’ licences were recovered from him at the point of arrest, all of which contained the same information, including the picture of the defendant and the only difference was the name.”
Okara further told the court that the defendant was taken to the EFCC office, where he was shown the allegation against him and subsequently was interrogated further.
“He told us that the cards were given to him by one Jim Collins, whom he met in the UK. He also told us that he was aware that these credit cards were not legally issued and that he did not know the owners of the card.
“He further said that his friend, Jim Collins, told him he used to pay bills like hotel bills, and that he had stayed in Federal Palace Hotel, Four Point Hotel and RADISSON BLU Hotel, among others.”
The witness also told the Court that further investigation was extended to the National Crimes Agency in the UK to confirm the authenticity or otherwise of the credit cards, the driver’s license and the criminal record of the defendant, if any existed.
He added “The team received response from the NCA stating that the drivers’ licences were forged documents, including the credit card and that the defendant was sentenced to 15 months imprisonment in the UK for offences bordering on fraudulent bank card, motoring offences and others stated in their reply, in which they went further to state that the defendant was even deported.”
The prosecution tendered the nine credit cards along with the drivers’ licences in evidence against the defendant and they were admitted in evidence after no objection was raised by the defence counsel, Olushola Bamidele.
Earlier in the proceedings, the prosecution had told the court about an amended one-count charge dated May 30, 2022 bordering on obtaining by false pretence contrary to Section 312 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State 2011.
The charge reads, “That you, Ahmed Soetan Adebola, sometime between the 23rd day of October 2020 and 4th November 2020 in Lagos, within the Ikeja Judicial Division, with intent to defraud, checked into RADISSON BLU Anchorage Hotel for the sum of N4,449,633.12, with the understanding that your payment will be made using an American Express card with pretence you knew was false.”
The accused also pleaded “guilty” to the charge.
The defendant was initially arraigned on July 19, 2021 on a six-count charge bordering on possession of document containing false pretence, an offence contrary to Section 318 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2011, to which he pleaded “not guilty”.
After the hearing, the trial Judge, Justice Dada adjourned the case till July 1, 2022 for judgement.