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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Former Akwa Ibom Rep granted bail in N31m fraud case

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A former member of the House of Representatives, Mr Sunday Johnson Udom, has been granted bail in a case of alleged N31 million fraud. Magistrate I. Idiong of Akwa Ibom State Magistrate Court 10 presided over the case in Uyo, the state capital. The 72-year-old was detained at Ikot Ekpene custodial centre before fulfilling his bail conditions of N1 million and other stringent requirements.

The particulars of the case in suit number: MU/155C/2023, state that Sunday Udom, also known as Soni Udom, was arrested by the police for allegedly defrauding one Aniekan Etim to the tune of N31 million. This contravenes Section 1 (1) (a) (c) (3) of the Advance Fee Fraud and other Related Offences Act, 2006.

Reports reveal that the defendant, who is also a former chairman of Oruk Anam local government area, claimed to be running a foundation partnering with a foreign donor agency in London and Zurich. He approached Aniekan Etim in November 2021, stating that the foundation had a contract with the Federal Government of Nigeria. Etim, moved by his love for charity, gave consent, oblivious of the fact that he had been defrauded, as the defendant failed to refund the money as promised. Subsequent investigations revealed that the defendant has no visible foundation to his name.

In his bid to recover his cash, Etim had to petition the commissioner of police, and Udom was arrested after evading several police invitations. He was granted an administrative bail by the police, but the 72-year-old jumped bail, leading to his rearrest and remand in the prison custody.

Udom, in his statement to the police, admitted running a charity foundation called Soni Udom Foundation, with headquarters at No 7 Umoessien Street, off Obio Imo Street, Uyo, the state capital. He also admitted knowing and collecting the said N31 million from Aniekan Etim with a promise to refund the same. However, in a lengthy legal battle, the commissioner of police, represented by a legal officer from the Police Legal Department, State Command Headquarters, Ikot Akpan Abia, noted that “the foundation documents presented by Sunday Udom to get the money from Aniekan Etim were fake with the intent to defraud him through deceit and dishonesty.”

Udom, represented by his counsel, Utibe Nwoko, argued that his client, aside from being aged 72 years, is diabetic with a partial stroke, thus should be admitted to bail by the court.

The Akwa Ibom State Magistrate Court granted the defendant an administrative bail of N1 million after fulfilling other stringent conditions. The case highlights the importance of due diligence when it comes to financial transactions and calls for stiffer penalties for individuals found guilty of fraudulent activities.

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