Law News
$242m fraud: Court decides Nwude’s appeal on forfeited assets
The Lagos Division of the Court of Appeal, on Thursday, reserved judgment in an appeal filed by a former Director of Union Bank of Nigeria, Emmanuel Nwude, challenging his conviction and forfeiture of assets by a Lagos State High Court in Ikeja.
Nwude was convicted alongside Amaka Anajemba and Nzeribe Okoli by Justice Joseph Oyewole for defrauding a Brazilian banker, Mr. Nelson Sakaguchi, and his bank, Banquo Noreste, Sau Paulo, Brazil, to the tune of approximately $242m.
The fraud, which was perpetrated between 1995 and 1998, was said to have grounded the victim and his companies, with Nwude earning a reputation on Wikipedia as “a notable advanced-fee fraud artist.”
Nwude’s conviction before Oyewole had followed a plea bargain he entered with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, wherein he agreed to forfeit his two companies, Emrus Nigeria Limited and African Shelter Nigeria Limited to make a “restitution of $110m” to the victim of the crime.
Nwude was also said to have agreed to forfeit a number of landed properties in various locations within Lagos and in Abuja, some vehicles,  in addition to corporate stocks belonging to him and his two companies.
The convict, however, filed a notice of appeal through his lawyer, Dr. Dapo Olanipekun (SAN), praying the appellate court to set aside his conviction and sentencing respectively.
At the resumed hearing of the appeal on Thursday, Nwude, through his lawyer, argued that the sentence given to him was unknown to law and not contained in Act establishing the offence.
Olanipekun argued that Nwude was made to forfeit some assets that he acquired before the offence was committed.
He urged the court to allow the appeal and set aside the judgment of the lower court.
In his response, counsel for the EFCC, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), told the court the appellant decided to change his plea to “guilty’’ after the prosecution had called six witnesses.
Jacobs told the court that the appellant voluntarily pleaded guilty and forwarded lists of assets to be forfeited.
According to him, the appellant appended his signature on each document containing the assets.
Jacobs argued that the mere fact that Nwude’s lawyer, in his allucutor, told the lower court that he (Nwude) forfeited properties allegedly acquired before the offence was committed, was not sufficient.
Besides, Jacobs told the court that the property had been handed over to the victims of the crime.
He urged the court to dismiss the appeal and allow the preliminary objection filed by the anti-graft agency.
In his submission, counsel for the Leo Wallace Cochrance and Leo Wallace Cochrance Junior (3rd and 4th respondents) respectively, Mr. Ebun Sofunde (SAN), argued that there was no evidence that any of the assets forfeited was acquired before the offence was committed.
He urged the court to dismiss the appeal and upheld the decision of the lower court.
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