EFCC Arrests Ogah in Lagos

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Davidson Iriekpen

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) monday arrested the President of Masters Energy Oil and Gas Limited, Mr. Uche Ogah in Lagos.

THISDAY gathered that Ogah was arrested at the Magistrates’ Court in Tinubu, Lagos Island as soon as he stepped out of the courtroom where a forgery charge filed against him by the police were withdrawn.

Ogah was declared winner of the last governorship election in Abia State by Justice Okon Abang of a Federal High Court in Abuja on June 27 but the judgment was upturned by the Court of Appeal.
He was then arraigned on June 16 by the police for alleged forgery.

The police prosecutor, Henry Obiazi, told the presiding magistrate, Mrs. Kikelomo Ayeye, when the case was called upon that he had the instruction of the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, to withdraw the charges against Ogah, his company, Masters Energy Oil and Gas Limited and an ex-employee of United Bank for Africa, Deji Somoye.

“I am instructed by the IG to withdraw this case, as the issue is pending with the SFU,” Obiazi said.

The charges were consequently struck out by the court.”
THISDAY gathered that as soon as Ogah stepped out of the courtroom to an adjourning street where his vehicle was parked and got in, EFCC operatives surrounded him, blocked the exit gate, and insisted he must follow them to the commission’s office in Ikoyi.

An EFCC source said the commission had received a petition against Ogah hence, his arrest.
He said Ogah was being interrogated.

In the suit filed against them, Ogah and his co-defendants were accused of conspiring with some persons still at large to forge a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Masters Energy Oil and Gas Limited and Mut-Hass Petroleum Limited sometime in March 2011.

The businessman and some other persons still at large were alleged to have forged the signature of one Mrs. Bridget Adeosun.

But they pleaded not guilty; after which they were admitted to bail in the sum of N200,000 each, with one surety each in like sum.
An EFCC operative rode with him in his vehicle.

He was interrogated in his lawyer’s presence and was asked to write a statement.
An EFCC source said others named in the petition would be invited for questioning.
Ogah and some others said to be at large were alleged to have forged the signature of one Mrs. Bridget Adeosun.

But, Ogah, through Ubani, said the transaction was commercial, adding that the criminal charge was baseless and politically-motivated.

He said Adeosun had an allocation to import petroleum but lacked the financial capacity to carry out the business.

He added she approached his company, Masters Energy Ltd, asking it to buy her allocation. The company told her that it had enough allocation. Ogah said following Adeosun’s persistence, his company agreed to the deal.

“Her proposal to sell her allocation to Masters Energy Ltd was concluded and a Memorandum of Understanding was executed, including Account Opening Documents in the bank wherein signatories were appointed to the knowledge of all parties to the transaction.

“She was given the full sum of the purchase price through cheques and she signed personally as having received the full sum of the sale. She cashed her money (we have all these evidence).
“Masters Energy carried out the importation and incurred loss in the transaction, but that was no longer the business of the seller as she is not liable for the profit or loss of the business,” Ogah said through his lawyer, Monday Ubani.

According to him, Masters Energy applied at the dollar differentials to the Debt Management Office (DMO) of the Federation, which agreed to pay about N51 million.

Ogah said Adeosun developed interest in the N51million price differentials and applied to UBA where the account was domiciled to be an “A” signatory in order to withdraw the sum whenever it is paid into the bank.
But, Masters Energy wrote to the DMO, asking it not to issue the cheque in the name of Adeosun’s company.

The company also got an interlocutory order from the Federal High Court, Abuja.
Ogah said the transaction coincided with his seeking for elective office in Abia State.
“Aided by political enemies, Mrs Adeosun took a pure civil transaction to the police alleging that all the documents she signed for the transaction were all forged,” Ubani said.

The charge, which was withdrawn, read: “That you, Masters Energy Oil and Gas Limited, Uche Ogah, and others at large sometime in March 2011 at Ikeja, in the Lagos Magisterial District, did conspire among yourselves to wit: forgery.

“That you, Masters Energy Oil and Gas Limited, Uche Ogah, and others at large, on the same date, time, place and in the aforementioned magisterial district, did forge the signature of one Mrs. Bridget Adeosun and a document known as MoU between Mut-Hass Petroleum Limited and Masters Energy Oil and Gas Limited, with an intent that it may be in any way used or acted upon as genuine.

“That you, Deji Somoye, United Bank for Africa and others still at large, sometime in August 2011, at UBA regional office, Palmgrove, in the Lagos Magisterial District, did knowing that Masters Energy Oil and Gas Limited designed to commit an offence, failed to use all reasonable means to prevent the commission or the completion of the crime.”