Justice Adebisi Akinlade of the Lagos High Court, sitting in Igbosere, on Wednesday September 17, 2014, ordered that Abdullahi Alao, a defendant standing trial in a N2.6billion scam, instituted against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, should pay a sum of N50, 000 as fine to the EFCC, for the failure of his counsel to appear in court for the continuation of his trial.
A defence team led by Taiwo Osipitan (SAN) failed to show up in court on Wednesday, for the cross examination of a prosecution witness, Laval Ahmed, who also doubles as the principal witness in the ongoing trial of Alao and his company, Axenergy Limited for their alleged involvement in a N2.6 billion oil subsidy scam, under the Petroleum Support Fund, for a purported importation of 33.3million litres of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS).
Oluwatosin Dawodu, who held brief for Osipitan, prayed the court to adjourn to a later date, explaining that Osipitan was absent because he had to attend a conference.
The prosecuting counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, immediately prayed the court not to grant the application.
“This application is intended to put wool in the eye of my Lord, I therefore urge my Lord to use the sledge hammer of justice to prevent that from happening. And that the cost of transportation of the witness be taken over by the defence counsel,” he said.
Justice Akinlade, who had earlier insisted that Dawodu must go ahead with the cross examination of the witness, however, granted the adjournment, which according to her, was necessary to enable the defendant get deserved fairness and proper representation.
She also ordered that the transportation cost of the prosecution witness be paid to him before the next adjourned date.
She subsequently adjourned the matter till October 8, 2014 for continuation of trial.
For the third time running, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Wedesday arraigned Abdulahi Alao, the son of Ibadan business man, Alhaji Abdulazeez Arisekola Alao alongside four others over their alleged involvement in N1.1billion fuel subsidy scam.
Abdulahi had earlier been arraigned before Justice Habeeb Abiru as well as Justice Adeniyi Onigbanjo, both of the Lagos High Court, Ikeja on a nine count charge of subsidy fraud by the anti-graft agency in July, 2012.
However, in a fresh six-count N1.1 billion theft charge brought against the junior Alao, he was accused alongside Opeyemi Ajuyah, Olanrewaju Olalusi and two companies; Majope Investment Limited and Axenergy Limited before Justice Lateefa Okunnu also of the Lagos state High Court, Ikeja.
The defendants were charged with offences bothering on conspiracy, obtaining by false pretence, forgery and uttering of forged document.
They were said to have conspired amongst themselves on February 14, 2011 to obtain the sum of N1,110,049,444.35 from the Federal Government of Nigeria by falsely claiming that the sum represented subsidy accruing to them under the Petroleum Support Fund (PSF), for the importation into Nigeria of 15,206.733 Metric Tons of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS).
An offence, the EFCC said was contrary to Section 1 (3) of the Advance Fee Fraud and other Fraud Related Offences Act, 2006.
The Commission also accused the oil marketers of obtaining by false pretence the sum of N1,110,049,444.35, from the government on April 18, 2011, by falsely claiming that the sum represented subsidy accruing to them under the PSF for the importation into Nigeria of 15,206.733 Metric Tons of PMS.
According to the EFCC, “Opeyemi Ajuyah, Majope Investment Limited, Abdulahi Alao, Axenergy Limited and Olanrewaju Olalusi on or about the 14th day of February 2011 in Lagos, with intent to defraud, conspired to obtain the sum of N1,110,049,444.35 from the Federal Government of Nigeria by falsely claiming that the sum represented subsidy accruing to you under the Petroleum Support Fund for the importation into Nigeria of 15,206,733 metric tons of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) which representation you knew to be false”.
They were also alleged to have forged a document titled, “Shore Tank Certificate” dated 22nd of January, 2011 purporting the document to have been issued by an officer of Q & Q Control Services Nigeria Limited, the offence allegedly contravened section 467 of the Criminal Code Cap. C17, Laws of Lagos State of Nigeria 2003.
They all pleaded not guilty to the offences.
Mr. Taiwo Taiwo, who represented them asked the court to hear their bail, however the court adjourned the case till October 19, 2012 for hearing of their bail applications.
A Lagos High Court on Wednesday, granted a N100 million bail to Abdullahi Alao, son of Ibadan businessman, Alhaji Abdulaziz Arisekola-Alao.
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.
A Lagos High court sitting in Ikeja on Thursday granted bail to the sons of the former and serving national chairman of the People’s Democratic Party(PDP), Ahmadu Ali and Bamaga Tukur, and some other suspects indicted in the oil subsidy scam.
Mamman Nasir Ali, Mahmud Tukur, and two others were granted bail by Justice Adeniyi Onigbanjo in the sum of N20 million each with two sureties in like sum, one of the sureties according to the court must be a blood relation and another a level sixteen officer in the Federal or State civil service.
The court also held that one of the sureties must own a property worth N100 million in Lagos and that the title of the said property must be registered with the state land registry and the sureties must present to the court’s registrar a three years tax clearance.
Justice Onigbanjo also ordered the defendants who also included Ochonogor Alex and Christian Taylor to deposit their travel passports with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), which can only be released to them on the orders of the court.
Alao to remain in custody
Though all the accused persons are free to go home upon fulfilling the terms of the bail, Abdulahi Alao, the son of Ibadan businessman and politician, Arisekola Alao would, however, remain in the custody of the EFCC until the 1 August when another judge, Justice Habeeb Abiru, handling the second charge filed against him by the anti-graft agency will determine whether to grant him bail or not.
His bail application for the trial which he and his company, Axenergy Limited are being arraigned, could not be heard because the EFCC pleaded for more time to respond to the application. He is facing a seven count of obtaining N1. 8 billion under false pretence
Mr Alao in the charge was specifically accused of conspiring to obtain N1. 8 billion from the Federal Government by falsely representing that the sum represented subsidy paid to him under the Petroleum Support Fund for the importation of 20, 014, 627 liters of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) which he falsely claimed was purchased and imported to Nigeria from Mercuria Trading N.V, vide MT Gavros ExMT Nippon Princess.
In the second case before Justice Onigbanjo, Mahmud Tukur, Ochonogor Alex, Abdulahi Alao and Eterna Oil and gas are facing a nine count of obtaining a sum of over N5 billion under false pretence.
They were said to have conspired to obtain the sum from the Federal Government by falsely representing that the sum represented subsidy paid to Eterna Oil and gas under the Petroleum Support Fund when they claimed to have purchased 33, 288, 338 litres PMS from Mercuria Trading SA and imported to Nigeria through MT Fulmer EX MT Emirate Star and MT Panther EX Emirate Star.
More false pretense
In yet another case, Mamman Nasir Ali, Christian Taylor and Nasaman Oil Service Limited were also arraigned before Justice Onigbanjo on a three count charge of obtaining N4. 8billion under false pretense.
Nasir Ali is the son of Ahmadu Ali, former chairman of PDP, and former chairman of the board of the Petroleum Products Pricing and Regulatory Agency (PPPRA).
However, the arraignment of Walter Wagbatsoma, Adaoha-Ugo-Ngadi, Fakuade Babafemi Ebenezer, Ezekiel Olajide Ejidele and Ontario Oil & Gas Nig. Ltd could not go ahead as Wagbatsoma failed to appear before the court.
His counsel Babajide Koku (SAN) informed the court that his client was not in court because he’s presently out of the country but would return to the country on Monday to enable him appear before the court.
But counsel for Ugo-Ngadi, Ebenezer and Ejidele, the second, third and fourth defendants respectively, Mr. Wale Akoni, (SAN), Abimbola Odeyemi and James Ogunyemi urged the court to separate the case of their clients from Wagbatsoma’s to enable their clients to be properly arraigned and also enable the court take their bail applications.
But Justice Abiru in his short ruling refused the request of the counsel on the basis that the request is premature at this stage as they are not yet properly before the court, he held that until their plea is taken the court cannot assume jurisdiction or make orders over the case.
The judge then adjourned the case till the 1st of August while the accused persons would remain in the custody of the EFCC.