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EFCC arests ex-minister over alleged N3.6bn loan fraud

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has arrested a former Minister of Commerce and Industry, Charles Ugwu, for alleged conspiracy and loan fraud amounting to N3.6 billion. Ugwu, a prominent figure in Nigerian politics, served under the late President Umaru Yar’Adua before being dismissed during a cabinet reshuffle in 2008.

According to a statement issued by EFCC spokesman Dele Oyewale on Monday, Ugwu was apprehended alongside Chief Geoffrey Ekenma, Managing Director of Ebony Agro Industries Ltd., on January 11, 2024, at their residence in New Owerri, Imo State. The arrests stem from a petition filed by a new generation bank alleging fraudulent activities conducted through Ebony Agro Industries, a company linked to the former minister.

Investigations reportedly revealed that Ugwu and Ekenma secured a loan facility from the bank for the purported purchase and production of polished rice. However, the bank claims the loan obligations were not met despite repeated attempts to recover the funds. The statement confirms that both suspects will face court proceedings upon completion of the investigation.

Ugwu’s arrest brings renewed attention to his recent political activities. In 2020, he was unopposed in his bid for the chairmanship of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Imo State, solidifying his influence within the party.

This case raises concerns about potential corruption within the Nigerian financial system and underscores the EFCC’s ongoing efforts to combat economic crime. With significant sums involved and a prominent political figure implicated, the outcome of this investigation is likely to be closely watched both within Nigeria and beyond.