The Nigeria police on Monday arraigned three unemployed men before a Yaba Magistrates’ Court in Lagos, for allegedly defrauding 26 traders of N5,200 over the Federal Government’s “Trader Moni” loan scheme.
The accused Henry Okafor, 40; Sanni Mufutauwu, 40; and Oyindamola Okunaiya, 45, who reside in Yaba area of Lagos, are facing a three-count charge of conspiracy, intent to defraud and stealing.
The Prosecutor, ASP Roman Unuigbe, told the court that the accused committed the offences on Dec. 11 at 4:00pm at David Street in Abule Oja area of Lagos, NAN reports.
According to him, the accused fraudulently collected N200 from 26 “market people” totalling N5,200, under the guise of registering them for the federal government’s “Trader Moni” loan.
Unigbe told the court that one of the victims, Mr Rasheed Babatunde, discovered that the men were not registered agents of the scheme and drew the attention of the police to the scam.
“One of their accomplices ran away with the money before the police could arrest them.
“My Lord, the 26 people we know of, are the people that agreed to come forward; some people refused to, saying it was just N200 that was collected from them.
“We are still conducting an investigation to find out exactly how many market people were scammed by them,” he said.
The prosecutor said the offences contravened Sections 287, 314 and 411 of the Criminal Code Laws of Lagos State 2015 (Revised).
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Section 314 stipulates 15 years imprisonment for the offence of intent to defraud.
The accused persons, however, pleaded not guilty to the charge.
Chief Magistrate, Peter Ojo, granted the accused bail in the sum of N500,000 with two sureties in like sum.
He said the sureties must be gainfully employed and also show evidence of three years tax payments to the Lagos State Government.
The case was adjourned until Jan. 21 for trial.
“Trader moni” is a federal government’s Social Investment Programme designed to assist petty traders to expand their businesses through the provision of collateral and interest-free loans of N10,000 to N20,000.