Thursday, 24 April 2014
EFCC Plea Bargaining With PDP Chairman’s Son Over Fuel Subsidy Fraud-PREMIUM TIMES
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has entered into ‘discussion’ with Mahmud Tukur, son of the People’s Democratic Party Chairman, Bamanga Tukur, over his role in the fuel subsidy scam, his lawyer told the court.
Justice Adeniyi Onigbanjo of the High Court of Lagos State, Ikeja, on Tuesday adjourned the trial of Mahmud, after his lawyer said that they have entered into a ‘discussion’ with the EFCC.
The Peoples’ Democratic Party Chairman’s son is facing trial alongside Abdullahi Alao, son of business tycoon, Arisekola Alao; and Alex Ochonogor, for their alleged involvement in the fuel subsidy fraud.
Their company, Eternal Oil and Gas Plc, allegedly obtained N1.9 billion from the Petroleum Support Fund for a purported importation of 80.3 million litres of petrol.
It never imported the petrol, the EFCC insists.
Mr. Tukur’s counsel, Tayo Oyetibo, asked the court for an adjournment so that they could finalize their “conference” with the EFCC.
“We as senior counsels we have studied the processes…and have decided to enter into discussion with the prosecution,” said Mr. Oyetibo, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria. “That’s why we didn’t file any processes to challenge the prosecution in court,” he added.
Both Messrs Oyetibo and Taiwo Osipitan, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria and counsel to Mr. Alao, did not shed light on the nature of their discussion with the anti graft agency.
Rotimi Jacobs, the EFCC counsel, however, did not oppose their application.
“The EFCC must give them the benefit of doubt and opportunity to explore,” Mr. Jacobs said.
A perpetually late judge
Lawyers’ who were in court on Tuesday allowed their frustration to boil over, after the judge, who always starts his proceedings late, failed to turn up two hours after the lawyers had been seated.
One lawyer complained that he had been in court since 7 o’clock.
However, when he arrived a few minutes after 11 o’clock, Mr. Onigbanjo after apologizing to the lawyers stated that he does not begin his sitting by 9 o’clock due to a “peculiar legislative policy.”
Release Tukur’s passport
Mr. Oyetibo also prayed the court to release the international passports of his clients, Messrs Tukur and Ochonogor, to enable them travel out of the country.
The EFCC did not oppose the application.
The judge granted the request, asking that the application be put in writing.
He fixed December 13 for the next sitting to “allow counsels resolve” their discussion.