EFCC Chairman, Ibrahim Lamorde
Davidson Iriekpen and Akinwale Akintunde
Sons of Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, Ahmadu Ali, Abdulazeez Arisekola-Alao as well as other directors of oil-marketing firms and their companies were formally arraigned Thursday before Justices Habeeb Abiru and Adeniyi Onigbanjo of the Lagos State High Court in Ikeja, for their alleged complicity in the fuel subsidy scam.
The accused are being charged by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for conspiracy, obtaining money under false pretence, forgery and the use of false documents.
Those arraigned before Justice Onigbanjo in two separate charges were the son of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) National Chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur – Mahmud Tukur – Ochonogor Alex, Abdulai Alao and Eterna Oil and Gas Ltd., while Nasaman Oil Services, son of former PDP National Chairman, Ahmadu Ali – Mamman Nasir Ali – and Christian Taylor were charged in a separate count.
The defendants in both cases were however granted bail as moved by their counsel, Chief Wole Olanipeku (SAN), Joe-Kyari Gadzama (SAN) and Mr. Wale Akoni (SAN) respectively.
The judge granted them bail in the sum of N20 million each with two sureties in like sum. One of the sureties must be a blood relative with a property in Lagos worth not less than N100 million with verifiable title documents.
The other surety must be a level 16 officer in a state or federal civil service and must provide three years tax clearance which must be verified by the Chief Registrar of the High Court. The defendants must also deposit their international passports with the EFCC.
Having granted them bail, the judge adjourned the case involving Tukur, Alex, Alao and Eterna Oil and Gas till November, 13 while that of Nasaman Oil Services, Ali and Taylor was adjourned till October 30.
Two different cases were also brought before Justice Abiru, one of which involved five defendants, namely: Walter Wagbatsoma, Adaoha-Ugo-Ngadi, Fakuade Babafemi Ebenezer, Ezekiel Olajide Ejide and Ontario Oil & Gas Nigeria Limited.
While the second case involved the son of Ibadan-based businessman, Alhaji Arisekola Alao – Abdulai Alao – and his company Axenergy Limited.
For the first case, the arraignment was stalled due to the absence of the 1st and 5th defendants, Wagbatsoma, and his company, Ontario Oil & Gas Nig. Ltd. The defendants were subsequently remanded in EFCC custody pending their proper arraignment on August 1, 2012.
Alao, who is facing a seven-count charge for obtaining money by false pretence, forgery and use of false documents, was arraigned but his bail application was adjourned till August 1, 2012.
However, counsel for the 1st and 5th defendants – Wagbatsoma and Ontario – Mr. Babajide Koku (SAN), informed the court that Wagbatsoma was not in court because he was out of the country.
“We have spoken to him and he is making arrangements to appear in court to defend the charges against him.
“He would have been here this morning but he has problems with his flight but he promised to get a connecting flight and should be back by Monday,” Koku informed the court.
But counsel for Ugo-Ngadi, Ebenezer and Ejide, the second, third and fourth defendants respectively, Mr. Wale Akoni, (SAN), Abimbola Odeyemi and James Ogunyemi, urged the court to separate their clients’ trial from the first and fifth defendants so that their clients could be properly arraigned and their bail applications moved.
Justice Abiru in his short ruling, however, rejected the request of the counsel to second, third and fourth defendants, insisting that the request was premature at the stage and adjourned till August 1.
Meanwhile, at the Lagos High Court in Igbosere, the arraignment of some of the indicted oil marketers before Justice Samuel Candide-Johnson did not proceed as planned for the second day in a row as both the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mr. Mohammed Adoke, and the EFCC failed to appear in court.
EFCC had in suit No-ID/117c/12 filed criminal charges against Durosola Omogbenigun, Peter Mba, Integrated Resources Limited and Pinnacle Oil and Gas before the judge.
When the matter was called yesterday, there was no representative for either the prosecution or the defendants in court.
But, seeing some counsel sitting in court, Justice Candide-Johnson demanded to know their mission.
One of the lawyers, Dr. Tochi Nwogu, told the court that he merely came to court out of curiosity having read in the national newspapers that some oil marketers would be arraigned.
Another counsel, Olaide Adedapo from the law firm of Edu, Edu & Co Solicitors, who claimed to have a relationship with the first defendant, (Integrated Resources Limited), told the court that he was not briefed to appear in court for the matter.
At this point, the judge said: “You read in the newspapers that some oil marketers would be arraigned in court and you rushed to court. You probably don’t have much to do in your chambers.”
Justice Candide-Johnson noted that going by the records of the court, it was obvious that both the AGF and the EFCC were served with hearing notices.
He then adjourned the matter till July 31 for the arraignment of the defendants.
The defendants were alleged to have conspired to obtain money by false pretence punishable under Section 1 of the Advanced Free Fraud and Other Related Offences Act, 2006.
The charge reads: “That you Integrated Resources Limited, Durosola Omogbenigun, Pinnacle Oil and Gas and Peter Mba between 2010 and 2011 within the jurisdiction of the honourable court conspired to commit an offence to wit: obtaining funds by false pretence from Federal Government of Nigeria, purporting the said funds to be payment accruing under the Petroleum Support Fund as subsidy for the purported importation of Premium Motor Spirit from Europe to Nigeria.”