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.

Akingbola Seeks Application For Treatment Abroad

The former managing director of Intercontinental (Now Access) Bank, Mr. Erastus Akingbola has filed an application seeking the permission of the court to travel to the United Kingdom on the 15th of April for medical treatment.

Justice Adeniyi Onigbanjo of the Lagos High Court Ikeja fixed the 10th of April to hear the arguments for and against the application.

The judge fixed the date after listening to arguments from counsel on both sides on the propriety of taking the application urgently.

Counsel To Mr Akingbola, Mr. Mike Igbokwe (SAN) informed the court that Akingbola had secured an appointment with  a doctor for the 15th of April at a Harley Street Hospital, London.

He stressed that such appointments are difficult to get and urged the court to hear the application urgently to enable the former intercontinental boss travel for his treatment and come back for his trial which had been fixed for July.

Counsel to the EFCC, Mr Godwin Obla however objected to the urgency of the application. He argued that the urgency was self-inflicted and instead requested for more time to study the application and respond to it.

Justice Onigbanjo pointed out that the issue was one that could be argued when the counsel made his case objecting to the granting of the application as he could not shut out the applicants right to be heard before the travel date.

He therefore adjourned till the 10th of April.

Court Grants Atuche Bail

The Lagos High Court sitting in Ikeja on Wednesday granted bail to the former Managing Director of Bank PHB (now Keystone Bank), Francis Atuche who was arraigned on Tuesday on fresh charges of alleged forgery.

Presiding Justice Adeniyi Onigbanjo granted the former bank chief bail on self-recognition.

Mr. Atuche was arraigned alongside two employees of Central Shared Services Centre of Keystone Bank Ltd., Joachim Nnosiri and Uguru Onyike.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) alleged that the defendants had on March 4, 2013 attempted to smuggle forged board resolutions of some companies into Keystone Bank headquarters in Victoria Island, Lagos.

The men had pleaded not guilty and subsequently filed an application for bail.

In ruling on Atuche’s bail application, the judge said he had not violated the bail conditions earlier granted him in the other cases against him which are pending before Justice Lateefat Okunnu.

Counsel to Mr. Atuche, Mr. Tayo Oyetibo (SAN), in the application for bail had claimed that the forgery charge was subservient to the N25.7 billion theft charge before Justice Okunnu.

Mr. Oyetibo said the board resolutions which were purportedly issued by Future View Securities Ltd.,Tradjeck Ltd. and Extra Oil Ltd. were vital to the EFCC’s case against the former bank chief.

“The claims by the Managing Director of the companies, Mrs Elizabeth Ebi, that Bank PHB granted the companies a N10.9 billion loan facility without any formal request, was contradicted by these documents,” he said.

“Okunnu issued a subpoena on Keystone Bank, the successor of Bank PHB, to produce the original copies of these board resolutions”.

Mr. Oyetibo said the bank had on March 4, informed the court that they were still searching for the documents, while Mrs Ebi was further cross-examined with the copies in the possession of Mr. Atuche’s counsel.

According to him, Mrs. Ebi had denied signing the board resolutions but admitted that the signatures were similar to hers.

“Rather than leave the court to determine if the said documents were forged or not, the EFCC hurriedly arrested the defendant and charged him with forgery,” Mr. Oyetibo said.

EFCC counsel, Mr. Ben Ubi, however, maintained that the charge before the court was separate from the proceedings before Justice Okunnu.

Justice Onigbanjo has, however, fixed the 28th of March for ruling on the bail applications of Mr. Atuche’s co-defendants.

He also fixed the 4th of October for trial.

EFCC Again Arraigns Atuche And Two Others For Forgery

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has arraigned the sacked Managing Director of Bank PHB (now Key Stone Bank), Mr. Francis Atuche on a fresh 9-count charge of forgery.

This is the third in the series of charges brought against Mr. Atuche by the EFCC since his removal as the bank’s chief executive officer in 2008.

In the fresh charges before Justice Adeniyi Onigbanjo of a Lagos High Court sitting in Ikeja, the former bank boss was arraigned alongside two officials of Central Shared Services Centre, an arm of Keystone Bank Limited, Joachim Nnosiri and Uguru Onyike.

In the charges, the EFCC alleges that the former bank boss and the others had on the 4th of March, 2013 in Lagos, attempted to smuggle forged board resolutions of some companies into Keystone Bank, the successor of Bank PHB.

The anti-graft agency also claimed that the forged board resolutions were said to have emanated from Future View Securities Limited, Tradjeck Limited and Extra Oil Limited.

According to the EFCC, the main purpose of the board resolutions was to request a N10.9 billion credit facility from the bank.

The resolutions were allegedly signed by the managing director of the companies, Mrs Elizabeth Ebi and addressed to Keystone Bank.

Mrs. Ebi had earlier testified in another case against Mr. Atuche in which he is facing a N25.7 billion fraud trial before Justice Okunnu of a Lagos High Court also sitting in Ikeja.

In that case, she testified that Mr. Atuche had granted a N10.9 billion loan facility to her companies without their knowledge or request.

The EFCC had contended that the alleged offence contravenes Sections 361 and 409 of the Criminal Laws of Lagos State 2011.

The former bank manager and his co-defendants have, however, pleaded not guilty to these allegations.

The court has fixed hearing of the bail application till the 27th and 28th of March.

Justice Onigbanjo also adjourned trial in the matter till the 10th of October 2013.


Court Allows Babalakin’s Co-Defendant Travel Abroad

The Lagos High Court sitting in Ikeja has given permission for Mr. Alex Okoh, who faces money laundering charges with the Chairman of Bi-Courtney Highway Services, Dr. Wale Babalakin, to travel to the United Kingdom for medical reasons.

After their arraignment on the 17th of January, the court had ordered both Okoh and Babalakin to deposit their travelling documents with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission EFCC.

However, the presiding judge, Justice Adeniyi Onigbanjo, last week ordered the EFCC to release Mr. Babalakin’s passports to enable him travel to South Africa for medical reasons.

In granting the application of Mr. Babalakin’s co-defendant seeking permission to travel abroad, Justice Onigbanjo asked the defence counsel, Mr. Olaniran Obele, to file evidence of Mr. Okoh’s prior medical appointment with the UK hospital where he intends to travel to on Wednesday.

The defence lawyer is also expected to file a further affidavit accompanying an e-mail he claimed was being expected from the UK hospital.

The lawyer had said his client had been to the UK hospital for his routine check-up between December 30, 2012 and January 7.

EFCC’s counsel, Mrs Taiwo Ogunleye, did not oppose Mr. Okoh’s application.

She merely urged the court to adjourn the matter to enable the defendant file the necessary documents.

Mrs. Ogunleye also told the court it was the United Kingdom that reported the case, which informed the charges, to the EFCC and as such Mr Okoh could be arrested in the UK a situation which could rob the court of its jurisdiction to further hear the charges.

Justice Onigbanjo then ordered the EFCC to release the travelling documents of the second defendant (Okoh) to him to enable him to travel to the United Kingdom between March 6 and 19, 2013 for the review of his medical condition.

EFCC Arrests Akingbola Ahead Of Tuesday’s Trial

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) will tomorrow, Tuesday, re-arraign the former Managing Director of Intercontinental Bank Plc, Mr. Erastus Akingbola, on charges of theft of the bank’s funds.

Meanwhile, the anti-graft agency in a statement released today said  it had arrested Mr. Akingbola in preparation for his arraignment before Justice Adeniyi Onigbanjo of a Lagos High Court, Ikeja.

The former bank boss is currently being held at the Commission’s facility in Ikoyi, Lagos.

His re-arraignment  was necessitated  by the elevation of former trial judge, Justice Habeeb Abiru, to the Court of Appeal.  Justice Abiru had on the 22nd of October, 2012 adjourned the matter till the 22nd of November, 2012 for adoption of final addresses of the counsel in the matter.

He was, however, sworn in as a Justice of the Court of Appeal on the 5th of November, 2012.

The development rendered Justice Abiru “functus-officio” and there arose the need to re-assign the case to another judge for it to start de novo (afresh).

In the former charges,  the EFCC alleged that Mr. Akingbola and his aide, the General Manager, Tropics Finance Ltd, Mr. Bayo Dada, stole about N47.1 billion belonging to the bank.

Subsidy Scam: Court Orders Freezing Of Asset Of Ali’s Son, Others

A Lagos High Court sitting in Ikeja on Thursday granted an order for an interim forfeiture of assets belonging to an oil marketer, Oluwaseun Ogunbambo of Fargo Oil & Gas Ltd, who is standing trial for fraudulently collecting money meant for fuel subsidy.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) obtained the order from the court presided over by Justice Adeniyi Onigbanjo through an ex parte application on Thursday.

Though the anti-graft agency did not specify the worth of all the assets it sought the court to freeze, it alleged that Mr Ogunbambo was being prosecuted for frauds totalling about N4.5 billion.

The affected assets, mostly bank accounts with a United Kingdom and five Nigerian banks, also includes a landed property at 2 Olamijuyin, Avenue Parkview Estate, Ikoyi Lagos.

The UK bank account bearing the name of his England-based company, Seatac Petroleum Ltd, was said to be having £1 million standing to its credit.

Five of the bank accounts bear the names Fargo Petroleum Gas Ltd, Arnage Oil & Gas Ltd and Seatac Petroleum.

Also, the account of one company, Nassaman Oil Service Ltd, belonging to Mamman Ali, son of former Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Ahmadu Ali, was among the assets frozen at the instance of alleged fraud linked with Seun Ogunbambo.

The EFCC’s counsel, Francis Usani, moving the application for forfeiture on Thursday said, “the properties and bank accounts set out in the schedule hereto, properties of the persons currently standing trial for conspiracy to obtain money by false pretence, obtaining the sums of over N4.5 billion by false pretence, forgery and uttering of a documents in Charge Nos ID/116C/2012, ID/133C/2012 and ID/122C/2012 all pending in this judicial division (Ikeja), be in the interim forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria pending the determination of all the pending proceedings against him”.

Two of the charges are pending before Justice Onigbanjo, who granted the forfeiture order on Thursday.

In the other charge involving Mr Ogunbambo and his firm, Adeline Investment, pending before another judge, Justice Olabisi Akinlade, the defendant was alleged to have used forged cheques and false claims to defraud Stanbic IBTC Bank of about N430 million in 2010.

According to the other two charges involving him, Habila Theck and Fargo, the accused were said to have defrauded the Federal Government under the fuel subsidy scheme up to the tune of N976.7 million.

In the other case involving Ogunbambo, Mamman Ali, Christian Taylor as well as Nasaman Oil Services, they were accused of defrauding the FG of N4.5 billion under the subsidy scheme.

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.

Babalakin vows to show up in court as EFCC declares him wanted

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has declared the Chairman of Bi-Courtney Highway Services Limited, Wale Babalakin (SAN) wanted in connection with a case of criminal conspiracy and money laundering to the tune of N4.7billion.

The Chairman of Bi-Courtney Highway Services Limited, Wale Babalakin

The businessman who was supposed to have reported to the anti-graft agency on Wednesday, ahead of his arraignment on a 27 count criminal charge before Justice Adeniyi Onigbanjo of the Lagos High Court on Thursday, January 17, 2013 failed to do so.

According to the statement Mr Babalakin has “gone underground” as he failed to show up at the commission as expected.

But in a swift reaction, the Head of Communications, Bi-Courtney Ltd, Mr Dipo Kehinde, denied the claim by EFCC stating that “Babalakin was in touch with EFCC by 5pm today. They asked him to report at their office tomorrow before he goes to court. Tonight, he was declared wanted.”

“We don’t understand the game that EFCC is playing” he stated adding that “this is nothing but a deep political game.”

“Since Babalakin came out of the hospital, he had reported at the EFCC office in Lagos for more than 5 times. He was also there on Tuesday. He is on EFCC’s administrative bail. He’s not a man on the run. We have a date in court tomorrow, but EFCC wants to give jungle justice.”


Money Laundering: Illness stalls Babalakin’s trial

The arraignment of the Chairman of the Bi-Courtney Group, Dr Wale Babalakin (SAN) could not hold on Thursday due to his absence in court.

Babalakin who was alleged to have helped former Delta State Governor, James Ibori to launder funds running into billions of Naira could not be produced by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Ebun Sofunde who led Dr Babalakin’s lawyers told the Lagos High Court sitting in Ikeja that he took ill and had to be taken to the hospital as his health condition deteriorated overnight.

The Presiding judge, Justice Adeniyi Onigbanjo thereafter adjourned the case till December 12 when he is expected to be arraigned.


Cynthia Osokogu’s murder: Pharmacists are released unconditionally

Two out of the four persons charged for the murder of Cynthia Osokogu have been released unconditionally by a Lagos High Court.

The two men, Maduakor Chukwunonso and Orji Osita who are pharmacists of Oxpharm Pharmacy, were accused of selling Rohpynol Flunitrazepam-a sedative without proper prescription and were eventually charged with murder and felony.

Speaking to Channels TV after their release, counsel to the pharmacists, Uchenna Nwoye said the pharmacists were released based on the advice of the Director of Public Prosecution.

According to Mr Nwoye, the presiding Judge, Justice Adeniyi Onigbanjo of the Lagos High court, had on the 20th of November ruled that “there was no evidence where the pharmacists had an agreement with the first and second defendants to kill the late Ms Osokogu.”

He further ruled that the pharmacists have no case to answer and decided ordered that the pharmacists should be discharged.

Counsel to the two pharmacists had proceeded to the High Court following the delay of the Magistrate Court led by Magistrate Aka-Bashorun to grant the prayer of the defendants following the advice of the Director of Public Prosecution.

The duo were earlier charged with the other defendants for unlawfully killing Cynthia Osokogu by administering her with an obnoxious substance known as Rohpynol Flunitrazepam tablets which was used to sedate her before her rape and murder.

Officials of the Pharmaceuticals Society of Nigeria, however shield the discharged Pharmacists from talking to our correspondent.

Fuel subsidy scam: Court adjourns Ali’s trial to accommodate more suspects

A Lagos High Court sitting in Ikeja, has adjourned the trial of the son of former PDP National Chairman, Ahmadu Ali – Mamman Nasir Ali, alongside others till the 12th of November, 2012.

The others expected to face trial before presiding Justice Adeniyi Onigbanjo alongside the former PDP National Chairman’s son, includes Nasaman Oil Services and Christian Taylor.

They were all charged by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for conspiracy, obtaining money under false pretence, forgery and the use of false documents.

At the resumed hearing of the matter today, counsel to the EFCC, Francis Usani, informed the court that the matter had earlier been adjourned till today (Tuesday) for trial, but explained that the commission would not be able to continue with the trial because of what he termed “some pressing issues which would assist the court in the true dispensation of justice”.

According to Usani, “The prosecution intends to join one Seun Ogunbambo as defendant in the matter.

“This is because as at the time the charge was filed, information relating to Ogunbambo had not reached the EFCC.”

In response, defence counsel, Toyin Pinheiro (SAN) who did not object to the submission of the EFCC said, “We would wait for the amendment of the charge to be effected.

“Though I know the defendants have no case to answer.”

In the meantime, Mamman Nasir Ali as well as the other defendants will continue to enjoy the bail already granted them by the court after their arraignment.