Two oil marketers and an oil marketing firm were on Tuesday brought before a Lagos State High Court in Ikeja over alleged N4.5bn fuel subsidy fraud.
The accused persons, who were freshly arraigned on an amended 49 counts of fuel subsidy fraud, include Mamman Ali, son of a former National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party and Director-General of the PDP Presidential Campaign Organisation in the last general elections, Senator Ahmadu Ali.
Ali was charged by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission alongside his two alleged accomplices – Christian Taylor and Nasaman Oil Services Limited, an oil-marketing firm.
They three were dragged before Justice Adeniyi Onigbanjo by the EFCC, which alleged that they fraudulently obtained N4.5bn as fuel subsidy claim from the Federal Government on a purported importation of 30.5 million liters of Premium Motor Spirit (petrol).
The re-arraignment of Ali and the two others on Tuesday followed the ‘disappearance’ of one Oluwaseun Ogunbambo, with whom they were first arraigned by the anti-graft commission on July 26, 2012.
Ogunbambo had reportedly fled the country after he was granted bail.
In 2012, the four accused persons were charged with nine counts bordering on the offence, the amended charge brought to court on Tuesday, however, contained 49 counts.
The counts bordered on conspiracy, obtaining money by false pretenses, forgery and use of false documents.
The Tuesday’s proceedings commenced with the EFCC’s prosecutor, Seidu Atteh, informing the court of the amended charges and seeking the permission of the court to take the plea of the three accused persons.
“With the kind permission of My Lord, we apply that the amended charge be read to the accused persons,” Atteh asked.
Onigbanjo subsequently granted the prayer. But upon reading the charges to them, all the accused persons pleaded not guilty to all the counts.
Atteh told the court that having freshly arraigned the accused, the anti-graft commission was ready to open its trial.
The prosecution, in the new charge, alleged that the accused persons committed the subsidy fraud between January 2011 and April 2012.
According to the anti-graft agency, Ali and the others allegedly forged a bill of lading and other documents to facilitate the fraud.
The prosecutor, Atteh, told the court that the accused, by their alleged fraudulent act, violated Section 1(3) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act of 2006.
He added that the offences also violated Sections 363(a) and 364 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State 2011.
Ali and Taylor had earlier in 2012, been admitted to bail in the sum of N20m each, the judge allowed them to continue enjoying the bail following their fresh arraignment on Tuesday.