Alleged N170m FIRS contract fraud: Zinox boss, wife, others finally vindicated as FG strikes out charges
The High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) presided over by Honourable Justice C. O. Oba sitting in Court 32 has struck out Charge No. FCT/HC/CR/469/2022 filed by Falana & Falana against the Chairman, Zinox Technologies, Leo Stan Ekeh and officials of Technology Distributions Limited, including Chioma Ekeh, Chris Eze Ozims, Shade Oyebode, Charles Adigwe and others over an alleged fraud involving a N170m contract with the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).
This follows a letter dated October 28, 2022 from the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, through the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions of the Federation (DPP) to Falana & Falana withdrawing the fiat earlier granted them in May 2022 and also directing them to immediately withdraw the said Charge constituted as FCT/HC/CR/469/2022 leveled against Ekeh and the others, based on the findings that the fiat was obtained on misrepresentation and concealment of material facts by their client, Benjamin Joseph of Citadel Oracle Concepts Limited.
At the court proceedings on Tuesday, November 8, 2022, Marshall Abubakar, counsel from the firm of Falana & Falana, who appeared for the prosecution, tried to argue against the instruction and sought adjournment on some flimsy grounds, despite the clear instruction of the AGF contained in the letter to his firm. However, Matthew Bukaa (SAN) who appeared for Ekeh, and the aforementioned staff of Technology Distributions Limited, opposed the application for adjournment and prayed the court to give effect to the unambiguous directive of the AGF to withdraw the charges. The trial judge, Honourable Justice C. O Oba, after reviewing the certified true copy of the Attorney General’s letter, agreed with the defence counsel, Mr. Bukaa SAN, that there are no legitimate grounds to sustain the charges or grant adjournment and accordingly struck out the charges.
taken by Falana & Falana in filing the case against Ekeh and others without due diligence.
‘‘I think what they want to achieve is to see Mr. Ekeh in the dock just to diminish his stature because from findings, the only sin the man committed is that he founded TD Africa and his company extended an interest-free credit to help a young man to survive, just like he has done for thousands of other partners of TD Africa, some of whom are in court here in sympathy with Mr. Ekeh.
‘‘This further gives vent to the claims that this might be a case of blackmail gone wrong, according to what Benjamin Joseph’s ex-business partner, Princess Kama confirmed in the media herself, that Benjamin Joseph’s grouse is that she did not support him to divert TD Africa’s funds after the FIRS paid them, as well as his alleged attempt to extort money from Mr. Ekeh when he learnt that Mr. Ekeh is a very rich man. I understand Mr. Ekeh and his wife have never met the alleged blackmailer. Does it mean if you transact a business with a company and something goes wrong according to your own estimation, you start calling the Chairman of the company, a distinguished Nigerian and global citizen, a criminal?
‘‘I sincerely think it is very demeaning for a reputable law firm like Falana and Falana to get involved in this. Nigerian lawyers must please upgrade and exhaust simple due diligence on their clients before accepting their briefs. I think that blackmail, due to hard times, is one of the biggest businesses in Africa now. Several compromised media houses are being used by these blackmailers to extort rich men. You can imagine the negative publicity orchestrated by some online media houses against Mr. Ekeh in the past few days on account of this useless case.
‘‘I congratulate Mr. Ekeh for having the guts to follow this fight to the end and if I were him, I would probably consider a petition to the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee against Falana& Falana. He should also take Mr. Benjamin Joseph to the cleaners by taking out court actions against him and his compromised media supporters,” Dr. Abo concluded.