A Federal High Court in Lagos has adjourned until March 8 the trial of a petroleum marketer, Olaniran Ogundipe, and his company, Petroleum Broker Nigeria Limited. Both parties are charged with defrauding the Nigerian government and people of more than N1.3 billion in fuel subsidy payments.
Prosecutors had on March 19, 2014, arraigned Mr. Ogundipe and his company.
Justice Hadizat Rabiu Shagari adjourned the case as the prosecutor, Abdullahi Dania, failed to furnish the court with the original copies of documents he intended to use in prosecuting the case.
Mr. Dania told the court that the original documents were in possession of his former co-prosecutor, Mr. Effiong Asuquo, a Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP). Mr. Asuquo has been transferred to head the legal department at the State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID) at Panti, Lagos.
In granting the adjournment, Justice Shagari urged the prosecutor to endeavor to obtain the documents to enable the case to proceed on March 8.
In an amended criminal charge, jointly signed by Dania Abdulai and Effiong Asuquo and filed before the court, the Nigerian government accused the petroleum marketer, his company and other persons now at large of obtaining the sum of N1.323, 162, 160.76 billion as subsidy from the Federal Government under false pretense. The accused, who allegedly committed the crimes between the months of January and April, 2011, reportedly claimed they had imported and sold 17,837,160 liters of fuel. The accused reportedly claimed they had brought in the fuel on MT Aidin (formerly known as MT Stena FR8).
According to prosecutors, the accused parties also forged import and vessel documents which they used to obtain the sum of N1.3 billion from the Federal Government.
The accused allegedly forged Consolidated Hallmark Insurance Plc, Marine Certificate number 0006108, dated February 18, 2011, with an insurance value of N2,232,736,022. They also forged other invoices with which they obtained billions of naira in fuel subsidy.
Mr. Ogundipe and his firm were alleged to have forged a Certificate of Quality, which they claimed was issued by SGS Inspection Services Nigeria Limited, and used it to obtain the subsidy payment.
The accused are accused of violating Sections 8(c),1(1)(a),(3) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Related Offenses Act, 2006, and Sections 1(2)(c) of the Miscellaneous Offenses Act, Cap. M17, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2006, and Sections 467(1) and 467 of the Criminal Code, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria.
The accused oil marketer, who entered a plea of not guilty, is currently on bail.