The trial of Ibrahim Kuforiji, Mojeed Raheem and Oladepo Habeeb continued on Monday, March 15, 2021 before Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo of the Special Offences Court sitting in Ikeja, Lagos, with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, presenting its first witness.
The defendants, who were first arraigned on February 25, 2020 on a four-count charge bordering on stealing, are alleged to have connived to divert goods worth N125,786,969 belonging to De-Moshadek Nigeria Limited, a major distributor of household goods and groceries.
They pleaded “not guilty” to the charges. One of the counts reads: “Ibrahim Kuforiji, Mojeed Raheem and Oladepo Habeeb, sometime in 2019 in Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, conspired amongst yourselves to commit felony to with stealing goods worth N85, 503,409 property of De-Moshadek Nigeria Limited.”
The first defendant, Kuforiji , is further accused of pocketing the sum of N15,786,700 he collected from wholesalers for goods belonging to De-Moshadek Nigeria Limited, and also diverting the company’s groceries worth N24,496,860.
Led in evidence by prosecuting counsel, Bilikisu Buhari, the witness, Abimbola Ogedengbe, who is the Operations Manager of De-Moshadek Nigeria Limited, narrated how the fraud perpetrated by Kuforiji, the then Key Distribution Manager, and the Warehouse Attendants – Mojeed and Habeeb- was uncovered.
According to her, she had raised memo for the distribution of some items, but she was notified that there were no goods in the store when the memo got to the warehouse.
She said: “We went into the store and discovered that there were no physical items of the goods.
“But in the ledger, the record showed we had over 2,000 cartons.
“We called Kuforiji and he started pleading that they should not expose him.
“We later found out that the other two defendants joined hands to distribute the items to customers without memo and without the money being credited to the company.
“We started checking and we found out that it affected all products that we were distributing to customers, including knorr beef, Close-up herbal, among many other products.”
She further testified that Kuforiji diverted the goods to customers who were not entitled to credit facilities from the company, adding that he also collected money from some customers without supplying them any goods.
“He hijacked goods and diverted them, and those to whom he diverted them were called and they confessed that the goods were given to them,” she added.
She further told the court that after a while the company started receiving debit alerts from Unilever for products, which the company’s record indicated had not been received from Unilever.
“We called on Unilever that the goods had not been supplied to us, but they said the goods were supplied, “she said.
According to her, the company later found out that “Kuforiji hijacked the trucks on the way to the company and diverted them to another destination entirely to offload them and he signed.
“But the invoice is supposed to be signed by the Warehouse Manager.”
She added that Kuforiji defaulted in paying back the money he stole, prompting the company to petition the EFCC.
She also identified the petition written to the EFCC. Bilikisu thereafter applied that the document be admitted against the defendants.
No objection was raised by the defence. The document was admitted in evidence as Exhibit A.
Justice Taiwo adjourned to April 26 and 28, 2021 for continuation of trial.