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Tuesday, 05 December 2023 16:33

EFCC Presents FBI’s Witness, Closes Case Against Defendants In Purchase of Forged American Express Travellers Cheque

The Lagos Zonal Command of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, has presented two more witnesses, against Mark Obisesan, Olumide Mcintouch, Bolaji Bakare, and Goodluck Bazunu, who are being prosecuted for an alleged purchase of forged United States Dollar Travellers Cheque.

The witnesses presented by the EFCC comprises of a Foreign Service National Investigator with the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation, FBI and one other witness while closing its case

The defendants were re-arraigned on February 16, 2023 before Justice I.O. Ijelu of the Lagos State High Court, Ikeja on amended 11-count charges bordering on an alleged purchase of forged bank notes and pleaded “not guilty” to the charges read to them.

One of the counts reads: “Mark Obisesan, Olumide Mcintouch, Bolaji Bakare, Goodluck Bazunu, and Josiah Ntekume (at large), sometime in 2018 at Lagos, within the Ikeja Judicial Division, received and have in your possession forged United States dollar Travellers Cheque number GA908-981-564.”

Another count reads: “Mark Obisesan, Olumide Mcintouch, Bolaji Bakare, Goodluck Bazunu, and Josiah Ntekume (at large), sometime in 2018 at Lagos, within the Ikeja Judicial Division, conspired to purchase, receive and have in your possession forged United States travellers cheques.”

However, during Thursday’s proceedings, prosecution counsel, N.K. Ukoha, led in evidence two more witnesses, Ayotunde Solademi, a Foreign Service National Investigator with the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation, FBI, and Bamaiyi Mairiga, a forensic expert with the EFCC’s Forensic Department.

They both testified against the defendants. Solademi testified as the second prosecution witness, PW2. He narrated the role the FBI played in the investigation of the alleged fraud.

He said: “On the 6th of January, 2020, the EFCC wrote a letter to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, FBI, through the office of the Legal Attache in the US Consulate, Lagos to assist it to confirm the genuineness or otherwise of eleven traveller’s cheques.

“The copies of the traveller’s cheques were attached to the letter and the numbers on the cheques were also included in the letter.”

Solademi narrated that the team assigned to the task immediately swung into action and wrote a letter to the American Express Traveller’s Cheque Authentication Centre, including the attached copies of the cheques in question sent by the EFCC.

He said: “They also sent us features to look out for in a genuine American Express Traveller’s Cheque. All these were packaged in a letter and the response was sent back to the EFCC in January, 2020.”

The witness also identified exhibits P2 and P3, which were already before the court, as the letter of investigation activities from the EFCC and the response of the FBI to same.

Under cross-examination by the counsel for the first defendant, Bolaji Ayorinde, SAN, he noted that he was not a forensic analyst and what they did with the request of the EFCC was to forward same to American Express Traveller’s Cheque Authentication Centre and the reply was subsequently forwarded to the EFCC.

Solademi, under cross-examination by counsel for the second, third and fourth defendants, Bilikisu Afe, N.T. Adebago and Ndubuisi Oraenyen, maintained that it was the American Express Traveller’s Cheque Authentication Centre that analysed the said cheques and the response forwarded to the EFCC, as requested.

Mairiga who testified as the third prosecution counsel, PW3, informed the court about the forensic analysis carried out on the said documents.

He explained that the Lagos Zonal Command of the Commission in 2020, sent a request for forensic analysis of ten American Express Traveller’s cheques and one Mastercard $100Cheque.

He said: “They were analysed for security features and the ten were found to be counterfeits and only the MasterCard $100 Traveller’s Cheque was genuine.”

He then identified the letter of request from the Lagos Zonal Command of the EFCC, which was already before the court, as Exhibit P1.

He also identified the response from the Forensic Laboratory to the request dated 7th February 2020 and maintained that there was a universal process of forensically analysing documents.

Ukoha informed the court that the prosecution was closing its case. “This is the case of the prosecution,” he said and Justice Ijelu adjourned the case till January 18, 2024.

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