Mrs. Folorunso Alakija, one of the richest women in Africa, on Thursday revealed to an Ikeja High Court how she was duped by Vincent Ayewah, one of her former empoyees at her Rose of Sharon foundation.

Vincent is facing trial, together with siblings Florence and Emmanuel, and four others Onuwa David, Okoronkwo Chikadibia, Ehizibolo George and Chinyere Awanah.

NAN quoted Alakija as telling the prosecuting counsel of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) that On November 13, 2012, she was called by her treasurer, Gladys Efiozor, who said that she received a call from Stanbic IBTC that a cheque had been forged.

“I told her to send me an email of the forged cheque and when I saw it, I told her that the signature was not mine," she said.

“There are three signatories to that account and the forged signature did not match those of the other signatories. Florence (Vincent’s sister) was the one caught with the cheque; the bank called EFCC to investigate and Florence was handed over to the EFCC.

“It was discovered that the bag she was carrying had 12 different identity cards of beneficiaries of the foundation, with her photographs on the identity cards. The bag also contained cash collected from other banks from the foundation’s account.”

Speaking further, she said: “He admitted to the fraud and begged for mercy; he had done other infractions in the past and had begged for mercy anytime he was caught.”

“A blank cheque and a survey plan of a property was in his car. He had committed infractions before, begged for mercy and I forgave him.  I thought that with warning, he would change,”

During cross examination by Mr. Obiora Umeh, the defence counsel to the Ayewahs and other defendants,  Alakija revealed more details

“There are widows and orphans that need to be empowered. I had one project manager at the time that Vincent Ayewah was reporting to," she said.

“When he needed to write the cheques,  he had to handle the cheque book. I knew he was issuing the cheques because it was part of his duty. The auditors must have gone through the list of beneficiaries and approved it. I can’t remember now if they were going through the cheque books because our systems have since changed.

“The issue at hand is that the first defendant (Vincent) had taken blank cheques and written the names of the beneficiaries on them. Vincent’s siblings had gone to pose in banks as the original beneficiaries.

“Even if it wasn’t a blank cheque he had torn out and he had followed the normal sequence of things, they will still go and pose as beneficiaries."

The matter was adjourned to October 25 by Justice Hakeem Oshodi.

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