N1.5bn Subsidy Fraud Charge: Court Dismisses Oil Marketers’ Application

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A Lagos High Court in Ikeja yesterday dismissed an application filed by three oil marketers, Mahmud Tukur, Alex Ochonogor and Abdullahi Alao seeking to quash the N1.5bn fuel subsidy fraud charge preferred against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission(EFCC).

The judge, Justice Lateef Lawal-Akapo threw out the application for lacking in merit.

The EFCC had in 2012 charged the defefants and their companies, Eterna Plc and Axe Energy Limited before the court on a nine-count charge of conspiracy, obtaining money by false pretences, and forgery.

The anti-graft agency claimed that they obtained the money from the Petroleum Support Fund of the federal government for a purported importation of 80.3m litres of premium motor spirit (PMS).

Their lawyer, Olaniran Obele, Ebun Adegoruwa and Aderemi Oguntoye had argued in separate applications that the court lacked jurisdiction to entertain the charge.

The lawyers maintained that the proof of evidence did not support the offences alleged against the defendants.

In his reply, the EFCC lawyer, Rotimi Jacobs prayed the court to dismiss the application because the issues raised in it had already being decided by the court of appeal, Lagos division.

He further argued that the EFCC could initiate criminal proceedings against anybody without obtaining fiat from the attorney-general of the state.

In his ruling, the judge then held that he was bound by the decision of the court of appeal, adding that there was similarities between both cases.

He further held that the EFCC did not need any fiat to initiate the prosecution and that the charge was not an absuse of court process.

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