EFCC Charges: Court Dismisses Tukur’s Application To Quash Charges

high court lagosJustice Lawal Akapo of a Lagos High Court sitting in Ikeja, on Friday dismissed an application filed by Mahmud Tukur and Ochonogor Alex, seeking to quash charges preferred against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.

The judge dismissed the application for lack of merit and abuse of court processes.

In his ruling, Justice Akapo upheld the prosecution’s argument that “the issue of sufficiency of proof of evidence cannot be raised until the prosecution had closed its case”. According to the judge, “this argument is vital and renders the application premature”.

Earlier, the EFCC counsel, Rotimi Jacobs, had argued that the application to quash the charges against Tukur and Ochonogor was premature since the substantive suit was yet to be considered.

A statement signed by the Head Media and Publicity (EFCC), Wilson Uwujaren, said Tukur, Tayo Oyetibo, had argued that the charges preferred against the accused persons should not be entertained by the court because it was their company, Eterna Plc that committed the crime imputed to them.

However, Jacobs pointed out that the position of the law, on the issue, is that “a company on its own cannot commit a crime but must use human agents”.

He further submitted that, the company, without the human agents, could  not answer to the alleged crime and the roles played by the accused persons were clearly stated in their statements.

He asked the court to “look at the statement of the first accused (Mahmud Tukur) who gave a vivid account of the transaction and how he signed for the monies paid into the account of the 4th defendant (Eterna Plc)”.

Jacobs further submitted that Tukur’s statement showed his involvement in the transaction that led to the charge. He added that the accused was involved in the day-to-day-running of the affairs of the company and that Ochonogor, as Director of Finance during this period, played major role in the importation and transfer of licence. “So, Tukur and Ochonogor are qualified to be charged together with Eterna Plc, as defined under the Criminal Code Law of Lagos State,” he stated.

Justice Akapo ruled that: “The court cannot delve into the substantive suit at an interlocutory stage. I therefore find no merit in the application and it is accordingly dismissed”.

He subsequently adjourned the matter to September 15, 22 and 25 for trial.

Mahmud Tukur, Alex Ochonogor, Abdullahi Alao and Eterna Plc were arraigned on a nine-count charge over an alleged 1.8 billion Naira subsidy scam.

N1.1b Fuel Subsidy Fraud: Court Dismisses Oil Marketer’s Applications

A Lagos High Court, sitting in Ikeja has dismissed three applications filed by an oil marketer, Abdullahi Alao, who is standing trial over his alleged involvement in a N1.1 billion fuel subsidy fraud.

Justice Lateefat Okunnu threw out Alao’s applications for lack of merit and abuse of court processes.

The first of the three dismissed applications had prayed the court to set aside its October 21 ruling that dismissed defendant’s previous application to quash the charges.

Alao’s second application had prayed the court to stay further proceedings on the trial, pending the determination of his appeal against an earlier ruling of the lower court at the Court of Appeal, Lagos Division.

The last application by the defendant had urged the court to refer the matter to the Court of Appeal for determination.

However, in her ruling, Justice Okunnu struck out the applications on the grounds that the prayers being sought for had been previously determined by the Supreme Court in other matters.

According to the judge, Section 277 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law of Lagos State states that “an appeal for stay of proceedings shall not be entertained until judgment is delivered in a criminal matter”.

She further held that the applications “are a roundabout attempt to stall proceedings and an abuse of the process of the court”.

The court has adjourned the matter till February 27, 2014 for continuation of trial.

Alao Collected Subsidy For Importing 15,000 Instead Of 4,000Metric Tonnes Of Fuel

The trial on N1.1billion fuel subsidy fraud against Abdullahi Alao, son of Ibadan based business man, Arisekola Alao, resumed on Wednesday and the Court heard that the young oil magnate was paid subsidy for importing 15,000metrc tonnes of fuel while he delivered just 4,000Metric Tonnes.

Abdullahi Alao and two other oil marketers Opeyemi Ajuyah and Olanrewaju Olalusi are facing trial on charges of forging documents to perpetrate the fuel subsidy fraud.

A prosecution witness, Mr Mohammed Adedapo, an inspector of petroleum products Q and Q Control Marine Services Limited testified against the three oil marketers at the continuation of trial before Justice Lateefat Okunnu of a Lagos State High Court in Ikeja.

The marketers and their firms -Majope Investment Limited and Axenergy Limited were charged to court by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The agency alleged that Alao and his co-defendants had imported about 4,000 metric tonnes of petroleum products but had obtained subsidy payment for 15,000 metric tonnes.

The witness who was led in evidence by EFCC counsel, Mr Francis Usani, said Q and Q was contracted by Oando Oil and Gas PLC to inspect the quantity of products brought in by a vessel, MT Brave on behalf of Majope Investment Limited.

Adedapo said the discharge was done at Lister Jetty in Apapa between January 22 and 23, 2011, adding that the vessel brought 15,000 metric tonnes.

He said about 4,000 metric tonnes was discharged into the facility while the remaining quantity was taken away by the vessel.

The witness said he wrote a protest letter to the Captain of the ship as a result of the discrepancy witnessed in the transaction.

Adedapo said he issued a Shore Tank Certificate to the marketers indicating that only 4,000 metric tonnes was discharged in the facility.

Under cross-examination by the defendants counsel, Mr Wale Akoni (SAN) and Mr Oludare Falana, he maintained that he did not sign any document indicating that 15,000 metric tonnes was discharged.

Following his denial, Falana ordered him to sign on a blank paper for comparison of the signatures.

The paper was admitted by the court as Exhibit P6.

The matter was then adjourned till July 24 for continuation of trial.

Stalled Case

In another case, the trial of three other oil marketers, Ifeanyi Anosike, Emeka Chukwu and Ngozi Ekeoma was stalled.

The marketers and their firms – Anosyke Group of Companies and Dell Energy Limited are facing trial before Justice Adeniyi Onigbanjo for an alleged N1.5 billion fuel subsidy fraud.

During Wednesday’s proceedings, Anosike’s counsel, Mr Layi Babatunde (SAN), informed the court that he was contemplating his withdrawal from the matter over some recent developments which he did not disclose to the court.

He therefore asked the court for an adjournment to enable him discuss further with his client.

The Judge adjourned the matter till Sept. 18 for mention.

Fuel Subsidy Scam: Trial of Bamanga Tukur’s Son, Others To Commence In May

Trial of the fuel subsidy fraud case filed by the Economic & Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) against Mahmud Tukur, son of the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Bamanga Tukur and others, is to begin in May, after a failed attempt to settle out of court.

Mahmud Tukur, Alex Ochongor, their firm, Eterna Oil and Gas, and Abdullahi Alao, son of Ibadan-based businessman, Abdulazeez Arisekola-Alao, are facing nine counts of fuel subsidy fraud amounting to about N1.2 billion before a Lagos High Court sitting in Ikeja.

Counsel for the EFCC, Mr. Tayo Olukotun, told the presiding judge, Justice Adeniyi Onigbanjo, at the resumed hearing of the matter on Wednesday that the settlement talks had “hit brick wall” and the lead prosecution counsel, Mr Rotimi Jacobs had asked him to pick a date for trial.

His position is, however, different from that of the counsel for Mahmud  Tukur, Mr. Tayo Oyetibo (SAN), who told the court that the talks were awaiting the input of Mr. Ibrahim Lamorde, the chairman of the  EFCC.

When the Judge sought clarification on the actual status of the talks, Mr Oyetibo said the lead prosecuting counsel, Mr Jacobs had told him that the chairman of the EFCC was not available last week and so the defence was looking at picking a date in early March to meet him and continue the talks.

Mr Oyetibo, however, expressed dissatisfaction over Mr Jacobs’ failure to communicate the latest development to the prosecuting team.

At the previous proceedings of December 13, 2012, the defendants, Mahmud Tukur and Alex Ochonogor had, through their counsel, sought for time to conclude the settlement talks with the EFCC.

Justice Onigbanjo has, however, fixed the 6th and 7th of May for the commencement of trial following the disagreement of the parties in the settlement talks.

The Judge also granted Abdullai Alao permission to travel to the United States of America for the treatment of his son.

The documents are to be returned to the custody of the EFCC on or before the 24th of February.

The other two defendants, Tukur and Ochonogor have also indicated to the court that they would be filing similar application to embark on a business trip to South Africa.

It will be recalled that Justice Onigbanjo had on December 13, 2012 granted similar application to the duo for business trips to the United Kingdom and France, asking them to return their passports to the EFCC on or before January 25.

Subsidy scam trial: You can’t travel abroad now, court tells Tukur and two others

The Lagos High Court sitting in Ikeja on Friday refused to grant an application brought by three directors of Oil Marketing and Trading Companies who requested the release of their passports to enable them travel abroad for Hajj and business.

The three directors are among several others standing trial for fraudulently collecting fuel subsidy money without importing the product.

The Vacation judge, Lateefat Folami, who presided over the case, in a ruling on the application brought by the trio of Mahmud Tukur, son of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) National Chairman, Bamanga Tukur; Abdullahi Alao, son of prominent businessman, Abdulazeez Arikesola-Alao; and Felix Ochonogor, said that she cannot overrule the earlier order granted by the trial courts.

Justice Folami held that she cannot grant their prayers to order the release of their passports especially as the trial judge, Justice Adeniyi Onigbanjo ordered the seizure of their travelling documents to ensure that they appear for their trial on the next adjourned dates.

According to her, allowing them to travel for Hajj rites which would begin October will clash with the November dates earlier fixed for trial by the trial Judge. She also stated that the dates allegedly meant for their business trips abroad had been overtaken by event.

The applicants had sought the court’s permission to travel abroad.

In their application dated the 14th of August 2012, the applicants through their counsel, Olaniran Obele said they needed to travel to Paris and London for separate business trips.

Specifically, Mr Tukur, the first applicant wants to travel abroad to attend a board and committee meeting of a company which he is a director and also intends to perform this year’s Hajj.

Mr Ochonogor, the second applicant also wants to travel to Paris to enable him attend a bond holder meeting which should have held last month but was rescheduled to the 27th of August. He said he intends to take the opportunity of the meeting to explain his present circumstance to the board.

Subsidy scam: Three suspects seek court’s permission to travel abroad

Some of the suspects arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) last month for alleged fraud in the Petroleum Support Fund for fuel subsidy have approached the Lagos High Court for permission to travel abroad.

Those who applied for the release of their international passports to enable them travel are Mahmud Tukur, son of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) National Chairman, Bamanga Tukur; Abdullahi Alao, son of prominent businessman, Abdulazeez Arikesola-Alao; and Felix Ochonogor.

The EFCC had in July arraigned Misters Tukur, Ochonogor and Alao before Justice Adeniyi Onigbanjo of the Lagos High Court, on charges of conspiracy, obtaining money under false pretence, forgery and use of false documents.

In an application, dated 14 August 2012, brought before the vacation Judge, Justice Lateefat Folami, the applicants through their counsel, Olaniran Obele said they needed to travel to Paris and London for a business trip.

Specifically, Mr Tukur, the first applicant wants to travel to attend a board meeting of which he is a director and also intends to use the opportunity to perform the hajj.

Mr Ochonogor, the second applicant also wants to travel to Paris to enable him attend what he says is a boardholder meeting which should have held last month but was rescheduled to 27 August to enable him attend and explain his present situation before the board.

The applicants tendered three exhibits comprising Notices of Meetings which they intend to attend both in London and Paris.

Their lawyer told the court that the applicants will not abscond if their application to travel is granted, adding that the first applicant’s father, Bamanga Tukur who is the PDP Chairman stood surety for him and he would not want to jeopardise that.

The second applicant the lawyer said was abroad in Ukraine when they were charged and was called by the first applicant and he came back voluntarily to the country for his arraignment.

Opposing the application, counsel to the EFCC, Rotimi Oyedepo told the court that Justice Onigbanjo’s order asking the applicants to deposit their International Passports with the EFCC has not been reviewed.

He said there was nothing in the exhibits tendered by the applicants that showed or suggested that the meeting to be attended by the second applicant has been rescheduled.

To him, granting the applicants permission to travel could open an escape route as was experienced in former Delta state governor, James Ibori’s case.

He therefore urged the court not to grant them permission to travel.

Fuel Subsidy scam: Court grants N100 million bail to Arisekola-Alao’s son

A Lagos High Court on Wednesday, granted a N100 million bail to Abdullahi Alao, son of Ibadan businessman, Alhaji Abdulaziz Arisekola-Alao.

Abdullahi Alao (R) with his lawyer,

The junior Alao is standing trial for making fraudulent claims in the fuel subsidy payments.

Abdullahi and his company, Axenergy Limited, were on July 26 arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on seven counts of collecting about N2.64 billion from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) as subsidy payment for the purported importation of 33.3million litres Premium Motor Spirit (PMS).

Presiding Judge, Justice Habeeb Abiru granted Mr Alao the bail in the sum of N100million with two sureties in like sum.

He held that the EFCC failed to give cogent reasons to warrant the refusal of the bail application.

The judge adjourned the matter till October 22, 2012 for commencement for trial.

Alao, who also faces a separate charge along with Mahmud Tukur, son of the incumbent National Chairman of the ruling People’s Democratic Party, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, Alex Ochonogo and Eterna Oil and Gas Limited, had earlier on July 27, been granted bail by another Lagos High Court, judge, Justice Adeniyi Onigbanjo.

‎​But he was remanded with the EFCC so that Justice Abiru will determine whether to grant him bail or not for the second charge filed against him by the anti-graft agency.