The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has arrested a former Minister of Commerce and Industry, Charles Ugwu, for alleged conspiracy and loan fraud to the tune of N3.6 billion.
Ugwu was appointed minister by late President Umaru Yar’Adua and was sacked after a cabinet reshuffle that affected 19 other ministers.
According to a statement by the Head of Media and Publicity of the commission, Dele Oyewale, on Monday, the ex-minister was arrested with Chief Geoffrey Ekenma on January 11, 2024, at No.2, Musa Yar Adua Way, New Owerri, Imo State.
The arrest of the two suspects was said to have followed “a petition to the commission from a new generation bank on the alleged fraud perpetrated through a company, Ebony Agro Industries Ltd., linked to the ex-minister.
The statement read, “Investigations revealed that Ugwuh and Ekenma, Managing Director, Ebony Agro Industries Ltd., allegedly obtained a loan facility from the bank for the purchase and production of polished rice.
“However, the suspect, according to the petitioner, failed to meet his obligations to the bank, and all efforts to get him to repay the loan facility proved abortive. The suspects would be charged to court as soon as investigations are concluded.”
The PUNCH reported in 2020 that Ugwu was elected chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party in Imo State. He returned unopposed as other aspirants from the Okigwe zone, where the position was zoned to, stepped down for him.
Three years after his election as the party chairman, he was suspended over alleged misconduct.