Fuel Subsidy: EFCC Withdraws Charges Against Four Firms
A Lagos High Court yesterday struck out the charges of fraud filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) against two persons and two oil companies.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), yesterday, withdrew all criminal charges against four suspects in the on-going prosecution of oil marketers involved in the subsidy fraud.
The anti-graft agency said the charges against Peter Mba, Pinnacle Oil and Gas, Durosola Omogbenigun, and Integrated Resources Limited at the Lagos State High Court, Igbosere were “misconstrued and was filed by mistake”.
“The duo and their respective companies had been charged with conspiracy and fraud in obtaining over N2billion worth of subsidy payments from the Petroleum Support Fund.After a proper review, it was found that the suspects were innocent of the offence they were charged with”, the EFCC said.
Presiding Justice Samuel Candide-Johnson struck out the case after the prosecution counsel, Mr Rotimi Oyedepo, told the court that he had instruction from the Attorney-General of the Federation to withdraw the charges.
Oyedepo, a counsel to EFCC, said that he was instructed by Mohammed Adoke, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, to withdraw the suit.”The information has not been served on the defence. I urge the court to strike out the charge,” Mr. Oyedepo said.”The charges preferred against the defendants in this case were misconstrued by the prosecution and were inadvertently filed against the said defendants.”A review of the prosecution’s case and the evidence available to the prosecution clearly show that the defendants did not commit the offences for which they are charged,” Mr. Oyedepo added.
The EFCC told the court that they would substitute the withdrawn charges with a newly filed one involving Oluwaseun Ogunbambo and others.”
The counsel also informed the court that the charges had not been served on the defence.
In his ruling, Candide-Johnson held that at the instance of the prosecution, the suit dated July 20, 2012 was struck out.
The Federal Government audit committee on the fuel subsidy scam headed by Mr Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede had indicted the defendants.
The defendants, Durosola Omagbenigun and Peter Mba, Integrated Resources Ltd, and Pinnacle Oil and Gas, allegedly claimed to have imported petrol from Europe.
The government had in a four-count-charge signed by Mrs Olabisi Fatunde, Director of Public Prosecutions of the Federation, on behalf of the Attorney-General of the Federation, stated the accused committed the crime between 2010 and 2011.
It alleged that the accused collected the money under false pretences from the government, purporting that it was payment accruing under the Petroleum Support Fund as subsidy for the importation of petrol.
The government said that the money was released to the defendants to import about 32. 3 million litres of petrol which they falsely claimed to have purchased at a cost of N19.3 million from Nimex Petroleum Ltd.
It further alleged that the accused claimed to have purchased about 13 million litres from Alcamo International Ltd which it allegedly imported via MV Box and MT Althea.