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Judge sets March 16 for Commencement of Trial of Ponzi scheme operators

Justice Zainab Abubakar of the Federal High Court, Court 4, Abuja has set March 16, 2023 for the commencement of trial of Vektr Capital Global Group along with two staff of the company Mr. Solomon Edet Solomon and Mr. Zakari Haruna on allegations bordering on operating as fund managers without registration by the Securities and Exchange Commission among others.

Hon. Justice Abubakar also directed that the two defendants be remanded in Suleija Correctional Centre pending when Mr. Zakari Haruna is able to fulfil his bail conditions.

The SEC had in March 2022 sealed up the Wuse Zone 5 office of Vektr Capital on suspicions of illegally collecting money from the investing public to the tune of N891,000,000 while not registered with the Commission.

In the four count charge brought against the company and its promoters by the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Vektr Capital Global Nigeria Limited  is alleged to have on or between the year 2021 and 2022 within the jurisdiction of the honourable court with intent to defraud, conspired amongst themselves together with one Kayode Sal Viktor and your other staff to obtain the sum of over N891, 729,000 from investing public including Cordelia Ukomaka Ducke Eze and others under false pretence that they were a fund managers which you are not and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 8 of the Advanced Fee Fraud and Fraud Related Offences Act 2006 and punishable under Section 1 (3) of the same Act.

“That you M/s Vektr Capital Global Nigeria Ltd, on or between the year 2021 and 2022 within the jurisdiction of this honourable court did commit a felony to wit. Conspired among yourselves together with Kayode Sal Viktor and your other staff to do an illegal act- to lure and offer for subscription an unregistered collective investment scheme valued over N891,000,000 to investing public including Cordelia Ukomaka Ducke Eze and others and thereby committed an offense contrary to and punishable under Section 516 of Criminal Code Act, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.

“That you M/s Vektr Capital Global Nigeria Ltd, on or between the year 2021 and 2022 within the jurisdiction of this honourable court did commit a felony to wit. Conspired among yourselves together with Kayode Sal Viktor and your other staff to do an illegal act- to lure and offer for subscription an unregistered collective investment scheme valued over N891,000,000 to investing public including Cordelia Ukomaka Ducke Eze and others and thereby committed an offense contrary to and punishable under Section 54 of the Investments and Securities Act, 2007” the Charge stated.

When the bail application came up for determination, the Justice said she has not been convinced going by the affidavit that the accused will attend court to attend trial and not jump bail.
Earlier, Counsel to Mr. Solomon urged the court to grant the defendant bail, stating that the defendant is only an employee of the company and not the owner.

However, Hon. Justice Abubakar declined saying that being an employee of the company is not enough for her to grant him bail but told the counsel that she needs to be convinced that if the defendant is granted bail he will be available to attend the hearing and not jump bail.
She said, “You know the provisions of the of the Administration of Criminal Justice on bail applications. He must meet those considerations. Show me in your affidavit of support where all these conditions have been listed as met to give me the assurance that the second defendant will at all times attend this trial in person. If I grant him bail based on what you have submitted will I not be seen to be reckless as a judge?

“Granting of bail is a discretionary power and you must earn it, you must convince me. So many people jump bail cases will come up and it cannot go on because the person has jumped bail. If you convince me, because your conviction is on oath I believe you. My concern is what you depose in your affidavit. I cannot on the basis of this deposition grant this person bail, I cannot.

“According to Section 160 paragraph 8F, the applicant must have these facts in his affidavit to convince the court to grant him bail. If I grant bail and he decides to jump bail tomorrow anyone that sees this application will say he did not commit himself.

Hon. Justice Abubakar state that there are no vital assurances to convince the court to grant the defendant bail as contained in Section 160 of Criminal Administrative Justice Act 2013 and enumerated in Paragraph 8f of the said Act, emphasising that It is important that the deposition must contain that vital information to convince and assure the court to grant the second defendant bail.

She subsequently ruled saying “In the absence of this, this court cannot grant the second defendant bail. Accordingly, bail is refused”.

On the third Defendant Mr. Zakari Haruna, the Judge stated that based on the propositions contained in the application submitted to the court for bail, particularly paragraphs 12-17, the court is inclined to granting bail to him.
“Accordingly, bail is granted to the third applicant in the sum of N100m and one surety in the like sum. The surety must be a responsible, reputable person in the society as deposed to in the affidavit, the surety must own landed property within the jurisdiction of this court whose title documents must be deposited with the deputy Chief Registrar Litigation of this Honorable Court after due verification.

“Both the third defendant and the surety must each deposit two copies of their recent passport photographs with the Deputy Chief Registrar Litigation of this honourable court. The defendant must also deposit his international Passport with the Deputy Chief Registrar Litigation of this honourable court. Bail is granted, those are the only conditions imposed”.

“Both the Second and Third defendants are to remanded in Suleija Correctional Centre. A remand of the third defendant at the Suleija Correctional Centre pending when he fulfils his bail conditions. Anytime he fulfils his bail conditions, he is free to go and enjoy his day” Justice Abubakar stated.

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