Alleged $100,000 Fraud: Court Orders Police to Release Oil Marketer

Wale Igbintade

A federal high court in Lagos has dismissed a four count-charge of fraud instituted by the Police Special Fraud Unit (PSFU), against an oil marketer, Aleem Suleiman Olaitan.

Justice Abdulaziz Anka, in his judgement ordered the Police Special Fraud Unit (PSFU), Ikoyi, Lagos, to release him immediately alongside his properties seized by the police. 

The judge held that the prosecution failed woefully to prove every ingredients of allegations beyond reasonable doubt. The defendant, (Olaitan), was first arraigned before the court on March 8, 2016, on two counts charge of alleged false pretence and fraudulently obtaining the sum of $100, 000 USD, from a foreign company, Topkings Partner (HK) Limited, under the pretence of supplying petroleum product.

The  allegations, which he vehemently denied and pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Following his not guilty plea, the prosecution opened its case and called a total of seven witnesses, and tendered some documents, which were admitted as exhibits by the court.

Upon conclusion of the prosecution’s case, the oil marketer, opened his defence and maintained his innocence on all the charges.

At the resumed hearing of the matter on January this year, the prosecutor, Mr. Emmanuel Jackson, an Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP), who is also Head of PSFU’s Legal and prosecution Section, informed the court of the amended charge against the defendant.

This was, however, opposed by the lawyer to the oil marketer, Mr. Chimezie Victor Ihekweazu (SAN), who opposed the prosecution’s application for not obtaining the leave of court.

Upon the objection raised by the defence team, the presiding judge, Justice Anka, ordered parties to file their addresses on whether the prosecution can amend charges without leave of the court.

Justice Anka, ruling on submissions of parties, after citing series of legal authorities, dismissed the objection raised by the defence, and held that the prosecution did not need the leave of the court to amend charges in criminal case.

The judge consequently ordered that the amended charge be ready to the defendant to take his plea.

In the amended charge, oil marketer, who operates under the name and style of Alimity Obanisare Oil And Gas Nigeria Limited, was alleged of inducing the foreign company, Topkings Partner (HK) Limited, to enter into a contract with him and falsely claimed to be reliable businessman who could supply crude oil them in China, by falsely told them that he was in a joint venture with NNPC.

He was also alleged to have fraudulently obtained the sum of $100, 000, that the money will be used to lift and ship the crude oil to the company in China.

He was also alleged to have forged several documents which include: Letter of Authorisation; Certificate of Quality; Certificate of Origin; Letter of Acceptance; Certificate of Compliance and Letter of Introduction, purporting them to have emanated from NNPC and NNPC Joint Venture Operators in Bonny Island, Rivers State, which he allegedly to defraud his victim, Topkings Partner (HK) Nigeria Limited.

CSP Jackson told the court that the offences contravened sections 1 (1) (b) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act, 2006 but punishable under Section 1(3) of the same Act. And Section 15(2)(b) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 as amended in 2012 but punishable under Section 15 (3) of the same Act. 

Defending the allegations, the oil marketer consistently said that he was never an agent of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC).

He also told the court that his inability to fulfill his own parts of the contract with the foreign company, was largely caused by Topkings Partner (HK) Limited, in fulfilling its terms of the contract.

The oil marketer, through his lawyer therefore urged the court to dismiss all the charges against him.

Delivering judgment on the matter, Justice Anka, after analyzing submissions of counsel, exhibits tendered and citing series of plethoras of legal authorities, held that the prosecution failed to establish all the ingredients of the charges against the oil marketer.

Specifically, the judge held that most of the witnesses called by the prosecution were not necessary witness to the matter.

Consequently, the judge held that the prosecution failed to establish the offences of obtaining by false pretence, fraud, forgery and  against the oil marketer.

After acquitting and discharging the oil marketer, the judge also ordered the PSFU to release all properties seized to him, in the cause of investigation and trial.

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