Thursday, January 23, 2014

Cecelia Ibru goes to Jail








FORMER Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of Oceanic International Bank Plc, Mrs. Cecilia Ibru, was yesterday, convicted and sentenced to 18 months imprisonment on a three count charge of negligence, reckless grant of credit facilities running into billions of dollars and mismanagement of depositors’ funds by a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos.
She is to forfeit shares in 298 unlisted and listed blue chip companies. She had shares in Guinness Nigeria, Zenith Bank Plc, United Bank for Africa, Diamond Bank Plc, First Bank of Nigeria Plc, Nestle Nigeria Plc, Nigerian Bottling Company Plc, GTBank Plc, Unilever, Africa Petroleum, Dangote Sugar, Oando Plc, PZ Industries Plc and many others. She is also to forfeit choice properties in Ikoyi, Victoria Island, all in Lagos State, Abuja, Delta and Rivers States. The convict is also to forfeit assets in Dubai, United Arab Emirate and the United States of America.
The assets and shares to be forfeited are contained in a schedule submitted to the court, worth over N191 billion. The court ordered that the forfeited assets are to be managed by the Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria, AMCON.
The court, after sentencing the convict, said “she should be returned to Redington Hospital, Victoria Island, Lagos from where she was brought to court to continue with her treatment until she is fit to return to prison.”
The convict was first arraigned on a 23-count charge on August 31, 2009, and remanded in Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, custody till September 14, 2009 when she was granted bail by the court. The charges were later amended to 25 in February 2010. She was docked for criminal manipulation of bank records and depositors’ funds. The EFCC had in December 2009 obtained an interim forfeiture order on the assets of Mrs. Ibru from the court.
Ibru entered a plea bargain arrangement with EFCC, which saw the reduction of the charges. She was initially assailed with a 25 -count charge which was reduced to three only counts 14, 17 and 23 of the earlier charges that were read to her, to which she pleaded guilty.
Trial judge in the matter, Justice Dan Abutu, in his judgement, after Mrs Ibru pleaded guilty to the amended three- count charge, sentenced her to six months imprisonment on each of the count, which are to run concurrently.
At the resumed hearing in the matter, EFCC counsel, had told the court, “we will be inviting the court under section 17 of the Federal High Court Act, which enjoins this court to promote reconciliation among parties and facilitate an amicable settlement with them under the inherent jurisdiction of the court under section 6(6) of the 1999 constitution.
“We will, therefore, be seeking the court to exercise these powers in this matter with regards to the agreement that has
been reached. It is the desire of the prosecution to amend the charge that had been filed in this matter by applying to withdraw a number of counts. All of the counts except counts 14, 17 and 23, would be left for her to take her plea,” the
commission said.
“I wish to state that the charge, under counts 14 and 23 carries a sentence provided for under section 16(1)(a) of the EFCC Act, a term not exceeding five years without an option of fine. However, consistent with the agreement we have reached, we have agreed that the term should be reduced. There was also an agreement of forfeiture of assets. It is in that respect that we are imploring the court to make the appropriate orders as we have greed,” EFCC had added. The charge for which she
was convicted read, “that you, Cecilia Ibru, being the Chief Executive Office of Oceanic International Bank Plc, in May 2009, failed to take all possible measures to make sure that the balance account of the bank for 2009 reflect true and real view of the account of the bank and thereby committed an offence, contrary and punishable under the Bank and Other Financial Institutions Act, BOFIA.
* That you, Cecilia Ibru, being the Chief Executive Office of Oceanic International Bank Plc, in August 2007, issued $20billion draft, to Waves Project Limited, which is above your credit approval and thereby committed an offence, contrary and punishable under section 15(1)(B) of the Fail Bank Miscellaneous Offences Act, Laws of the Federation, 2004.
* That you, Cecilia Ibru, being the Chief Executive Office of Oceanic International Bank Plc in April 2007, recklessly granted loan of N20billion to Petosan Farms Limited, without following the laid down procedure of the bank and thereby committed an offence, contrary to section 15 of the Fail Bank Miscellaneous Offences Act, Laws of the Federation, 2004.