Judge frees three AIICO staff – WorldStage

Judge Oluwatoyin Taiwo of a special court in Ikeja has acquitted three staff members of the American International Insurance Company Limited (AIICO) accused of fraud of N1.5 billion

News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that Taiwo, in a decision in a no-case submission filed by the defendants – Onome Harriet, Olajumoke Akano, Olabode Ogunlere and former AIICO Chief Executive Lanre Fabunmi, who is on the run, said the three staff members had no case to answer.

She found that the prosecution failed to prove the alleged offense against the defendants while ruling on the dismissal filed by the defendants.

The judge noted that during the trial, the good prosecution witness who was an investigator had stated during cross-examination that he had never found any document showing that the defendants and former general manager of the company, Mr. Lanre Fabunmi had met and committed illegal acts. law.

She also referred to the testimony of the second prosecution witness who said that before any payment, it must go through its internal control customer service and the managing director approves.

The court found that none of the defendants had demonstrated that they were part of the internal control or had fomented a plan to steal from the company with the general manager.

Taiwo said believing that the prosecution’s evidence that the defendants received huge sums because the sales commission meant they colluded with the chief executive would be speculation on the part of the court.

“The lack of concrete evidence creates doubt in the mind of the court and the court does not act on speculation, much less conjecture which is ambiguous and speculative.

“Suspicions, no matter how serious, do not constitute evidence and cannot serve as a basis for the conviction of a person in law. Suspicions remain suspicions and cannot be transformed into convincing evidence, no matter how serious .

“See the case of Happy Kingsley Idemudia VS The State (2015) LPELR- 24835 (SC). Haruna VS State (2019) LPELR- 47805 (CA).

“It is evident that the offense of conspiracy to commit an offense will necessarily precede in time the offense of the actual commission of the offense to which the conspiracy relates.” She says.

The judge said the prosecution had to prove that there was indeed an agreement between the defendants and the MD to commit the offence.

“The myriad of evidence to prove the payment of the sales commission also reveals that the defendants, in whatever capacity, did not approve the payment to themselves.

“Ultimately, the prosecution case is riddled with speculation, half-truths and insufficient evidence to support the altered information.

“The prosecution’s case was carefully pruned during cross-examination and the remnants of the evidence did not establish a case against the defendants justifying the need for them to present their evidence.

“Therefore, having failed to establish a prima facie case against the defendants, the submission of dismissal made by the defendants is hereby affirmed. The defendants are hereby released and acquitted,” Taiwo said.

NAN reports that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) charged the defendants with an amended 22-count borderline charge of conspiracy, theft, dishonest conversion of funds for the purpose of buying properties and convert funds belonging to the company.

The defendants had pleaded not guilty to all charges.

The prosecution team led by Mr. Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, had opened its case and called eight witnesses with several documents presented as exhibits before closing its case.

The prosecution had, during the trial, told the court about the sale process in AIICO’s investment arm. The first prosecution witness (Eguarekhide Longe) had testified that he worked with AIICO Pension.

Longe said the company sold insurance contracts and obtained cash and investments. According to him, the Assurances group deployed a large network of agencies to sell insurance contracts and for the agency work carried out, the sales commission was paid to the agent.

He told the court that the sales commission is usually approved by the board and the managing director can sign more than 5 million naira.

Longe further told the court that none of the defendants was a board member or director of the company.

The defendants, through their counsel, Mr. Adeyinka Olumide-Fusika, SAN, Mr. Tayo Oyetibo (SAN) and Dr. Muiz Banire, SAN, for the first to third defendants respectively, had filed a dismissal which was pleaded in court after the prosecution closed his case.

The defense attorney submitted and drew the court’s attention to the testimony of prosecution witnesses during cross-examination, who agreed that the sales commission paid in 2020 to prove the exact amount stolen by the defendant in order to to establish a prima facie case.

They also argued that the court should review evidence from prosecution witnesses as well as P exhibits to see that the defendants never stole or converted the money belonging to the company, but were entitled to the commission. of sale.

The lawyer also argued that none of the prosecution witnesses testified about the rule prohibiting the payment of a sales commission to staff.