Oil marketer fails to quash subsidy fraud charge


Henry Ojelu

Justice Lateefat Okunnu of the Ikeja High Court today dismissed an application filed by an oil marketer, Emmanuel Morah, seeking to quash the N789.6 million fuel subsidy fraud charge preferred against him and others by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Morah and his company, Rocky Energy Ltd., filed the application dated 13 March, 2013 through their counsel, Mr Eubena Ahmedu.

The defendants are facing trial alongside Adamu Maula, George Ogbonna and Downstream Energy Resources Ltd.

They are facing eight-count charge bordering on conspiracy, obtaining money by false pretences, forgery and altering.

Delivering ruling on the application, the judge dismissed it for lack of merit, adding that the charge against the defendants was competent and properly filed.

Okunnu held that the EFCC was right to charge them to court under the Criminal Code Laws of Lagos State of Nigeria 2003 which was in force when they allegedly committed the offences.

The judge further held that their claim that no prima facie case had been established against them in the proof of evidence was not sufficient to quash the charges.

She said: “Section 260(2) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law of Lagos State 2011 provides that an objection to the sufficiency of the proof of evidence shall not be raised before the closure of the prosecution’s case,” she said.

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The judge further held that the Federal Government of Nigeria was a juristic person who can sue or be sued by others.

Okunnu said: “I can find no merit in this present application.

“The prayers therein are accordingly refused and the application stands dismissed.”

She subsequently adjourned the matter to 10 May, for trial.

Meanwhile, the trial of four other oil marketers — Walter Wagbatsoma, Adaoha Ugo-Ngadi,Fakuade Babafemi and Ezekiel Ejidele, also continued before the court.

The four accused persons alongside their company, Ontario Oil and Gas Ltd., are being prosecuted for an alleged N1.9 billion fuel subsidy fraud.

Counsel to the accused persons, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), Prof. Taiwo Osipitan (SAN) and Mr J.A. Badejo resumed their cross-examination of the prosecution’s witness, Insp. Dalmon Yelma.

The lawyers accused Yelma who is an operative of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) of not doing a thorough investigation of the case involving their clients.

They maintained that the accused persons did not inflate the volume of petroleum products they had imported into the country as alleged by the witness.

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