Africa’s richest woman and Founder of Rose of Sharon Foundation, Mrs Folorunsho Alakija, yesterday, told a Lagos High Court, sitting in Ikeja, how three siblings and four others defrauded the Foundation of N3 million.
The suspects are Vincent Ayewah, Florence Ayewah and Emmanuel Ayewah. Alakija told the court, presided over by Justice Hakeem Oshodi, that on November 13, 2012, she received a call from the Treasurer of the Foundation informing her that a cheque presented at a bank for payment by Florence Ayewah, a sister to Vincent Ayewah, who works as a Clerk/Administrative Officer of the Foundation, had an irregular signature and was rejected. She said Florence Ayewah had about 12 identity cards bearing her picture with different names of the Foundation’s beneficiaries. “At the time she was caught, she had collected money from three banks, using the forged documents,” she said. Alakija said cheques of the Foundation were usually signed by three people; she, the Treasurer and one other.
But that none of the signatures on the cheque was theirs. However, she told the court that Vincent Ayewah tore off about 10 leaflets of the cheque book and a copy of it was found in his new car, which he parked far away from the office on the day of the incident. She said immediately she received the call, she went to the office and met Vincent hurrying out. But she stopped him and collected his phone from him. According to her, they observed during interrogation that he had deleted some incriminating messages he had in his phone. But later admitted the fraud and apologised. Meanwhile, she said they went to EFCC office to lay complaints and also went back the next day to write complete statements.
She told the court that Vincent had been involved in a criminal act, but was reprimanded and forgiven. Her words: “We received complaints from beneficiaries, who said each time they received their cheques, he would run after them, saying there was error in the cheque. He would collect it and tell them that once the error was corrected, he would return it, but never did.” During cross-exanimation, the lawyer to the first, second, third, fourth, fifth and seventh defendants, Mr. Obiora Umeh, applauded her for having a philanthropic heart and urged her not to be discouraged by the alleged incident.
While responding to one of the lawyer’s questions, Alakija said: “Vincent was employed as a clerk. He was given the administrative responsibility of writing cheques. “It was his responsibility and that of the Projects Manager, who he reports to, to keep cheque books. In whose custody it was kept at a particular point in time, I do not know.” Also, Alakija told the counsel to the sixth defendant that the defendant was involved in the matter because he made the fake identity cards used in perpetrating the fraud. Other defendants in the matter are Onuwa David, Okoronkwo Chikadibia, Ehizibolo George and Chinyere Awanah. The case was adjourned till October 25 for continuation of trial.