N299.86M Fraud: Defendant’s Absence Stalls Trial Of Petroleum Firm, Others

* Wooden Justice Gavel and Scales. Vector * Source : 123RF.com

 

Story By Gbenga Ogunbufunmi

 

The expected trial of a limited liability company, OBD Petroleum Limited and seven others for allegedly defrauding United Bank for Africa, UBA, of the sum of N299.86m could not proceed today due to the absence of the first defendant, Obinna Michael.

When the matter came up for hearing today , it was observed , that Obinna who is also representing OBD Petroleum Limited and their counsel were not in court forcing the prosecutor, Mrs Kehinde Bode- Ayeni to ask that the case be adjourned till further date.

Consequently, the trial judge, Justice Saliu Saidu adjourned the matter till January 26,2021 for trial.

The Federal Government through the office of the Attorney General of the Federation, AGF, had arraigned OBD Petroleum Limited, Obinna Michael and five others for allegedly defrauding United Bank for Africa, UBA, of the sum N299.86 million.

Justice Saliu Saidu fixed the date following an application by the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF).

Other defendants charged before Justice Saliu Saidu of the Federal High Court, Lagos are, Umeanor; Samson Egbuwoku; Stephen Ohiwere, Ilolo Ogho Gift and Isaac Okorodudu.

They are standing trial for the offences bordering on conspiracy, obtaining under false pretence, forgery and fraud.

According to an amended charge marked FHC/L/281c/2016, the defendants were alleged to have forged a Zenith Bank Statement of account and used same to defraud UBA of N299.860 million.

At the scheduled arraignment of the defendants last year, prosecution counsel, Kehinde Bode-Ayeni prayed for a short adjournment, to enable all the defendants to be present in court to take their plea.

She informed the court of the prosecution’s intention to withdraw charges against the fourth defendant, who would be used as a prosecution witness during the trial.

The defendants, who were represented by O. J. Ozioko; Sam Ogungbamila and Joseph Okobieme, did not oppose the application.

Justice Saidu consequently granted her prayer.

According to the charge the defendants committed the offences sometimes in October 2014. The AGF alleged that the oil company and Obinna Michael Umeanor, by false pretence obtained N160 million from UBA, under the pretence that the money would be used to supply 1,100,000 liters of Automated Gasoline Oil (AGO) popularly called diesel to a firm, Lastan Energy Ltd.

The defendants and others now at large allegedly conspired and obtained another N139,860 million from UBA, under the pretext that the money would be used for the same purpose.

It was alleged that to perpetrate the fraud, Obinna forged a Zenith Bank statement of account number 1013015544 belonging to OBD Petroleum Ltd, while Okorodudu, Gift and Egbuwoke forged a Certificate Of Occupancy number 21/21/1991AR, registered in the name of Rotimi Olawoye, of a property located at Lekki Peninsular, Plot 6, Block B2, Eti-Osa area of Lagos State.

The offences according to the AGF contravened Sections 1(1)(a), 8(a), 18(a) of the Advanced Fee Fraud and Other related offences Act, 2006 and were punishable under Section 1(3) of the same Act.

The offences also contravened Section 2(c) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act, 2004 and Sections 18(a) and 15(2) of the Money Laundering Act, 2015.

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