- Couple and mother-in-law’s conviction for fraud raises some fundamental questions
Trust is a great virtue. However, it is often not a given. It is earned. To be adjudged trustworthy by others often takes a long period of evaluation and an exhibition of good behaviour. It simply means that someone is dependable and sincere. The viability of most relationships is based on the level of trust exhibited by both sides.
Business relationships and public service demand a huge level of trust from all those involved simply because other people’s lives depend very much on the integrity of the parties. Society really runs on the ability of all players to act with integrity worthy of the trust of others.
The banking industry is one sector that demands a huge sense of responsibility and trustworthiness simply because the world runs on the most priced legal tender – money and other financial and legally valuable materials that might not be physical cash but extremely valuable to their owners and society. In essence, bankers are supposed to, like Caesar’s wife, be above reproach.
It is in the light of the trust investment by the banking public that Justice Adekanye Ogunmoye sentenced a former banker, Ebenezer Alonge, his wife, Olamide Oyinlola and his mother-in-law, Isakunle Eunice, to a cumulative 60-year jail term as they were found guilty on a 12-count charge of conspiracy and bank fraud brought against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibadan Zone, in Ekiti State. The terms are however to run concurrently.
In a sense, this conviction speaks to a cocktail of significant issues. Mr Alonge betrayed the trust of his employers and the customers that he abused his position to defraud and inflict emotional and financial losses on. The wife, Olamide, proved to be a partner-in-crime to a husband that she is supposed to help be a better person in their union. The mother-in-law, Isakunle proved to be both an irresponsible mother and mother-in-law. Her daughter possibly continued an undignified lifestyle she might have started from home. If her mother did better in grooming her to be a better human, she possibly might have turned out differently. As a mother, she ought to have been a sort of moral compass to her child and the husband. She failed. Alonge might equally have married his type. However, as adults, the three are henceforth to learn that integrity matters.
This story of family collusion in the fraud case and their conviction reinstates the fact that the court remains the last hope of the common man. We commend the bank that went through the due diligence of investigating the case that led to the discovery of a long chain of fraudulent acts of the ex-banker to the tune of N21m. To think that a seemingly paltry sum of N62, 400.00 led to further discoveries is commendable.
The banking industry is replete with complaints of impropriety by bankers, and, in most cases, customers do not get justice. So, this reiterates the fact that seeking legal redress in such financial cases can often lead to justice being done. To think that the crime started in 2017 and justice was done in 2021 equally says something about the justice system in the country. Four years is a long time to wait for justice if the dictum, ‘justice delayed is justice denied’ is anything to go by.
While we commend the court and EFCC for bringing closure to this case, we equally realise that many cases are still left unresolved. The Nigerian Judicial Council (NJC) and the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) must begin to work on improving the justice system by making the necessary demands on government to do the needful. The banking industry must take a cue and be more thorough and painstaking in checking the background of those they employ.
The intra-system checks must have been a bit loose for it to take the complaint of a single customer to open a can of worms perpetrated by Alonge. The financial industry is supposed to be self-sanitising in ways that certain acts are nipped in the bud early. Records of bank frauds, especially with the development in technology, have been overwhelming and those entrusted with such a delicate economic sector must be seen to be at least near perfection if perfection is humanly unattainable.