Naira Abuse: EFCC arraigns ‘Cubana chief priest’

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2nd from left, Cubana Chief Priest, Pascal Okechukwu, in court during his trial in Lagos on Wednesday.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Lagos Zonal Command, on Wednesday arraigned a businessman and socialite, Pascal Okechukwu, a.k.a Cubana Chief Priest, on a three-count charge bordering on abuse of the Naira.

He was arraigned before Justice Kehinde Ogundare of the Federal High Court, Ikoyi, Lagos.

Count one reads: That you, Okechukwu Pascal, on 13th February, 2024, at Eko Hotel Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, while dancing during a social event, tampered with funds in the denomination of N500(Five Hundred Naira) issued by the Central Bank of Nigeria by spraying, thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under Section 21(1) of the Central Bank Act, 2007.”

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Count two reads: “That you, Okechukwu Pascal, sometime in 2020, in Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, during a social event tampered with funds in the denomination of N500( Five Hundred Naira) issued by the Central Bank of Nigeria by spraying same for two hours and you thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under Section Section 21(1) of the Central Bank Act, 2007.”

He pleaded “not guilty” to the charges when they were read to him.

The defence counsel, Chikaozolu Ojukwu, SAN, notified the court of two applications: a preliminary objection and a summons for bail.

He, however, prayed that the defendant be allowed to take his plea, and the said applications taken when they were ripe.

In view of the defendant’s “not guilty” plea, the prosecution counsel, Bilkisu Buhari, asked the court for a trial date.

Responding, counsel to the defendant, Ojukwu informed the court of an application for bail.

He said: “My lord, we have an application dated and filed 17th April, 2024 for an order admitting the defendant to bail in liberal terms.

“The order is predicated on eight grounds, 25 paragraph affidavit and a written address.

“We rely on the affidavit that the defendant has been on an administrative bail and has not breached the condition of the bail.

“The offence of which he is being charged is a misdemeanour for which the punishment is an option of fine or a sentence of not more than six months.

“I urge the court to exercise your kind discretion in favour of the defendant. I also urge my noble lord to give us 14 days to enable him perfect the bail condition, in the event that bail is granted.”

Justice Ogundare granted the defendant bail in the sum of N10m, with two responsible sureties.

He ordered that the sureties must be gainfully employed within a Federal or State Government Parastatal and must not be less than Grade Level 16 officers.

They must also possess landed properties and the documents verified by the prosecution.

The Judge also ordered the defendant to submit his international passport to the court and all addresses must be verified by the prosecution.

The bail condition is to be perfected within seven days upon an undertaking by the defence counsel to produce him.

He adjourned the case till May 2, 2024 for hearing of the application.

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