An Enugu State High Court on Tuesday convicted and sentenced a former Branch Manager of the Sterling Bank Plc, Market Road, Enugu, Mr Anidiobi Chukwuka, to eight years’ imprisonment for stealing and fraud.
The trial judge, Justice Cyprian Ajah, convicted Chukwuma of all the 32 counts levelled against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
The bank manager was arraigned before the court for stealing and converting to personal use the sum of N219m belonging to customers of Ohha Microfinance Bank Limited, Enugu, kept in a fixed deposit account with Sterling Bank Plc, its corresponding bank.
Counsel for the microfinance bank, Mr Olu Omotayo, who briefed journalists shortly after the judgement, said Chukwuka committed the offence between August 15, 2014 and November 16, 2017.
Omotayo disclosed that his client first reported the case to the EFCC in a petition in
January 2018, adding that the Enugu zonal office of the agency investigated the case.
“The case was further referred for thorough investigation by the chairman of the commission based on a further petition we wrote on behalf of our client, dated July 4, 2018.
“Sequel to the outcome of further investigations, EFCC, through its prosecuting counsel and Chief Legal Officer, Michael Ani, filed a 32 count charge of stealing by conversion, obtaining by false pretences and forgery against the suspect (now convict) and was subsequently arraigned before Justice Ajah on May 7, 2019.
“The accused was represented during the trial by Chief O.A.U. Onyema, while Olu Omotayo held watching brief for the nominal complainant, Ohha Microfinance Bank Limited, throughout the trial,” he added.
He said the court convicted Chukwuka and sentenced him to four years’ imprisonment each for counts 1 to 14.
Omotayo said, “He was further sentenced to four years each for counts 15 to 28 which border on obtaining by false pretences, while he was sentenced to eight years for counts 29 to 32, which border on forgery. The sentences are to run concurrently.”
He told our correspondent that his client, Ohha Microfinance Bank, also in 2018 instituted a civil action against Sterling Bank Plc before Justice Chinyere Ani, of the High Court of Enugu State, praying for N600m damages for breach of contract and misappropriation of the N219m.