Alleged Purchase of Forged Bank Notes: Court Adjourns Trial of Four till Feb 15
Justice I.O. Ijelu of the Lagos State High Court sitting in Ikeja, Lagos, on Thursday, January 18, 2024, adjourned further hearing in the trial of the quartet of Mark Obisesan, Olumide Mcintouch, Bolaji Bakare and Goodluck Bazunu, who are being prosecuted for an alleged purchase of forged bank notes, till February 15, 2024.
The defendants were, on Thursday, February 16, 2023, re-arraigned by the Lagos Zonal Command of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on an amended 11-count charge bordering on purchase of forged bank notes, contrary to Section 370 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State 2011, and conspiracy to purchase forged bank notes, contrary to Section 410 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State 2011.
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 Dollars 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, received, and have in your possession forged United States travellers cheques.”
They pleaded “not guilty” to the charges when they were read to them.
The prosecution, through its counsel, N.K. Ukoha, had, on November 30, 2023, closed its case, after calling three witnesses. At Thursday’s proceedings, counsel for Bazunu, Ndubuisi Oraenyen, informed the court of the death of his client, who was the fourth defendant.
Ukoha, thereafter, applied that the hearing of the case be vacated to enable the prosecution to verify the death of the defendant.
According to him, both the letter and death certificate presented by the counsel had no hospital name and name of the doctor.
However, Justice Ijelu ruled that the verification should not affect the proceedings.
Obisesan, thereafter, took to the dock to defend himself, as he opened his defence. Led in evidence by his counsel, Bolaji Ayorinde, SAN, he told the court that he had known the second defendant, Mcintouch, for over 20 years, adding that the three travelers cheques, which were found in his possession, were purchased from the second defendant.
“I paid for it through my Stanbic Bank account to Mr. Olumide’s GTBank account,” he said.
The certified true copy of the first defendant’s bank statement was, thereafter, identified and tendered in evidence. There was no objection raised, and it was admitted in evidence by the court.
The defendant, however, said that he reached out to Travelex when he found out that the third traveler’s cheque in his possession had been bought over. “I reached out to the company and they told me they were the issuer and also confirmed it was authentic,” Obisesan said.
Under cross-examination by Ukoha, the defendant admitted that he was once involved in identity theft in the United Kingdom and that he had not purchased travelers cheques prior to this incident.
Under cross-examination by counsel for the second defendant, Bilikisu Abe, he testified that the transaction took place three times. He said the first two were genuine and that he had never doubted the integrity of the second defendant.
While being cross-examined by the third defence counsel, N.T. Adegbagbo testified that he met the third defendant, Bakare, in the EFCC custody.
There was no cross-examination from the fourth defence counsel.
Justice Ijelu adjourned the matter till February 15, 2024.