TWO persons and an oil marketing firm yesterday swelled the rank of those being tried by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for the fuel subsidy scam.
The accused were arraigned before a Lagos High Court sitting in Ikeja for allegedly conspiring and obtaining N976 million by false pretence.
The defendants, Oluwaseun Ogunbambo, Habila Theck and Fargo Petroleum and Gas Limited, pleaded not guilty to the six-count charges bordering on conspiracy, obtaining money by false pretence and forgery, preferred against them by the commission before Justice Adeniyi Onigbanjo.
EFCC told the court that the accused on or about February 10, 2012 in Lagos within Ikeja Judicial Division with intent to defraud, obtained N976.653 million from the Federal Government by falsely representing that the said money was for subsidy accruing to them for the importation of 13,627,084 litres of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), which they bought from Seatac Petroleum Limited.
The products were allegedly imported into Nigeria through MT Diplomat Ex and MT Milleura, which were false.
The commission said the offences breached Sections 8,1 (3), 363, 364 and punishable under Section 1(1) (2) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria.
But counsel to the first defendant, Mr. Babajide Koku (SAN), told the court that he had filed a fresh application for bail to substitute the earlier one filed by his clients on July 25, 2012.
Koku continued that he would need to react to the counter-affidavit of the prosecution, which opposed the bail application of his client.
Counsel to the EFCC, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs, told court that he needed time to react to the issues raised in the new application by the defence, which was served on him yesterday morning. He therefore urged the court to remand the defendants in the EFCC custody pending when their bail application would be argued.
The defendant’s counsel asked for a short adjournment to enable him react to all the applications, a request Justice Onigbanjo granted by fixing the next hearing date for tomorrow and for the bail application to be argued.
Meanwhile, Mr. Toyin Pinhero (SAN), counsel to Mamman Nasir Ali, the son of a former chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Ahmadu Ali, has approached the court with an application for variation of bail granted his client and the thrid defendant, Christian Taylor last week by Justice Onigbanjo.
Nasaman Oil Services, Nasir Ali and Taylor were arraigned before Onigbanjo last Thursday, who granted them bail.
EFCC had alleged then that they conspired to fraudulently obtain N4.461 billion from the government as payment under Petroleum Support Fund (PSF) as subsidy for the purported importation of petrol from Europe to Nigeria.
“I have filed a new application for variation of bail terms granted the defendants at the last hearing. So, there are two applications before the court now,” he said.
Jacobs told the court that the EFCC was in the process of filing its response to the earlier application when it was served with the new application.
Like the earlier case, he asked for time to respond to the new application of the defence in view of the issues raised in it.
He said Taylor, who earlier in the proof of evidence, claimed to be an indigene of Edo State, had turned round to claim citizenship of Sierra Leone.
“We want the court to look into these issues before deciding on a date to argue the issue of bail.”
After listening to their submission, Justice Onigbanjo adjourned the matter till tomorrow for argument of application for bail variation.
|< Prev||Next >|