‘How SSS uncovered plot to print fake N20bn notes’

A Federal High Court, sitting in Lagos, was yesterday told how the State Security Service stumbled on an alleged plot by a suspected fraudster, John Elem, to print N20billion counterfeit naira notes.

The agency’s Principal Officer in Charge of Investigation in Lagos, Peter Uche, told the court that the SSS personnel stormed the place following an intelligence report.

The prosecuting counsel, Mr. E.K. Ugwu, told Justice Saliu Saidu that the defendant’s action violated the Counterfeit Currency Offences Act, 2004.

Led in evidence by Ugwu, the first prosecution witness, Uche, said the SSS received a petition against Edem signed by Mr. Francis Okowa.

Uche said the petition was delivered to him at about 4.pm in his office on December 7, 2016, by “Mr. Grant” from the law firm of Mr. Rickey Tarfa (SAN).

According to him, Okowa, Tarfa’s client, claimed that Edem was plotting to print naira notes worth N20billion.

“Based on the petition, I went to my director and immediately a team was constituted to identify and arrest him. The following day, around 2pm, we were able to apprehend the suspect along Governor’s Drive, Parkview Estate, Ikoyi.

“The team was split into two: one to go and search his house while the other was to search his company. I led the team that went to his house on Banana Island in the evening of the same day.

“We met someone in his house, so, we tendered a search warrant and subjected ourselves to body search by the defendant and the person in his house. We went into the house and recovered items that we believe support the petition.

“Some of the items were 92 pieces of golden colour holograms, a textbook and handbooks on how to print currencies. We also recovered a manual numbering machine,” the witnessed further told the court.

Continuing, Uche said, between December 9 and 11, 2016, he took two separate statements from Edem, saying, while the defendant denied the allegation, the items recovered from his residence supported the agency’s claim.

Justice Saidu admitted in evidence the 92 pieces of golden colour holograms, which the witness said were recovered from the closet in Edem’s master bedroom, as well as the two statements as exhibits.

He similarly admitted in evidence a textbook entitled: Optical document on security, the handbooks said to contain instructions on how to print currencies and the manual numbering machine, while the trial continues today, January 8.

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