Two Company Directors, Elliot, Okoronkwo Lose Bid To Stop N7.3bn Fraud Trial
Justice M.S. Hassan of the Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos, on Monday, January 15, 2018 refused a bid by suspected oil fraudsters, Ogbor Elliot, Managing Director, Danium Energy Services Limited, and Godwin Okoronkwo, Managing Director, Petrosol Energy Limited, to stop their trial over a N7.3bn oil fraud.
When the prosecution counsel, Nne Emeka Omewa, presented a prosecution witness, Jean Philippe Torres, Managing Director, Total Nigeria Plc, to testify at the resumed hearing today, counsel to the first defendant, Ahmed Akanbi, objected.
Akanbi, in his objection, told the court that the witness was not listed in the proof of evidence.
He urged the court not to allow Torres, who is the third prosecution witness, PW3, give evidence in the case.
Also, counsels to the other defendants aligned themselves with the objection raised by counsel to the first defendant.
In his response, the prosecution counsel, however, told the court that a representative from Total was listed in the proof of evidence, adding that “The PW3 is representing Total Nigeria Plc.”
In his ruling, Justice Hassan held that “I have carefully listened to the applications of all counsels. But they are not applicable to this case.
“Total Nigeria Plc is a company and must be represented by a human being.”
”The judge, therefore, overruled the objections raised by the defence and allowed PW3 to give his evidence in chief, stating that the defense could later cross-examine him.
Giving his evidence, Torres told the court about a letter from the Commission, requesting to confirm if some documents emanated from Total and also if some attached invoices were received by Total.
The PW3 said Total accordingly responded to the letter.
When the prosecution sought to tender the EFCC letter as well as the reply by Total, the defence counsels all objected to their admissibility.
They argued that the witness was not the maker of the documents and could not tender them.
They also urged the court to reject the letters sought to be tendered.
The prosecution counsel, however, told the court that the witness had earlier stated that the document carried his name and was signed by the Director of Operations, who is authorized to sign documents in his absence.
He further told the court that “he document is a primary document; and once produced in court, it is admissible. The document is relevant to the charge before the court.”
He, therefore, urged the court to admit the document in evidence and discountenance the objections made by the defense.
Justice Hassan adjourned the case to January 16, 2018, for ruling and continuation of trial.
The accused had been re-arraigned on a 10-count charge bordering on obtaining under false pretense, conspiracy and forgery, following a complaint received by the Commission from one Eddy Henshaw, an employee of a new generation bank., on March 17, 2017.
The complainant, Henshaw, alleged that sometime between January and February, 2017, Danium Energy Services Limited, one of the bank’s customers that enjoy credit facilities, approached the bank to finance three different Purchase Orders for the sale of Automotive Gas Oil, AGO, to Total Nigeria Plc, with a cumulative value of N12, 134, 700,000(Twelve Billion One Hundred and Thirty-four Million, Seven Hundred Thousand Naira).
Henshaw further alleged that the bank financed two of the Purchase Orders for the sum of N4, 103, 100, 000.00 and N4, 015,800,000.009 respectively, after allegedly receiving confirmation from Total Nigeria Plc.
However, the purchase orders were discovered to have been forged when the bank approached Total Nigeria Plc for payment 21 days after financing the transaction.
One of the counts reads: “ ‘That you, Ogbor Kehinde Elliot, Godwin Okoronkwo , Danium Energy Services Ltd and Petrosol Energy Ltd on or about 5th day of October, 2016 in Lagos , within the jurisdiction of this honourable Court with intent to defraud conspired amongst yourselves to commit an offense, to wit: inducing Fidelity Bank Plc to deliver to Danium Energy Services Ltd the sum of N1,573,146,000.00( One Billion, Five Hundred and Seventy- three Million, One Hundred and Forty- six Thousand Naira ) under the false pretense that Total Nigerian Plc vide a letter dated 5th day of October,2016 with Ref NO: OPS/SUP/10/16/361 contracted Danium Energy services Ltd to supply 10,000 Metric Tons of Automotive Gas Oil (AGO) for the sum of N 1,990,440,00.00( One Billion, Nine Hundred and Ninety Million, Four hundred and Forty Thousand.”